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How NASA Builds Teams: Mission Critical Soft Skills for Scientists, Engineers, and Project Teams by Charles J. Pellerin

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CHAPTER 2
Managing Social Context Manages Technical Performance

The Power of Context

Have you every thought about the power of the social context to influence your team’s performance? Technical workers often focus so intently on their task that they fail to notice, much less manage, their team’s social context. As I stated previously, combining the intellectual foundation of How NASA Builds Teams with 4-D online assets makes your team’s social context not just visible, but directly manageable.
In fact, management of contexts to influence our behaviors is common in ordinary life. For example, cafeterias display expensive high-protein items last and in difficult-to-reach locations to modify our behavior. For most of us, ploys like these are transparent. We look the entire offering over before putting anything on our plate.
Wilson and Kelling (1982) made a more sophisticated argument about the power of context to influence behavior. They argued that crime increases in tenements when no one repairs broken windows. Unrepaired windows create a context in which people assume there is no authority and crime increases. This led to a massive and successful experiment to lower crime in the New York City subway by enhancing the context. Strategies included cleaning the subway cars and arresting fare jumpers.
Politicians understand the power of context to alter behaviors. Campaigns are all about framing so we will vote the way they want us to.
The core idea in this book is that social contexts ...

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