Friday, 20 April 2012

Engineered Drama

While compiling my income taxes, I was a little shocked at how much we had paid during the year for my daughters’ horseback riding lessons.  The thought occurred to me that if she didn’t appreciate it and she didn’t contribute so much to the operations of our home, I might have to “engineer some drama”.  If she required discipline, I could put-on a show that because money was tight, we might have to cut-out her lessons.  Maybe she would offer to do extra chores, or contribute in some other way in order to keep the lessons.  Maybe she’d appreciate them more for having defended this activity from Dad’s chopping block.  Fortunately, I’m blessed to have a 16 year old girl who requires very little “engineered drama” to correct undesirable behaviors.

As Canadians, we like to keep things on an even keel.  We’re averse to “making waves.”  Engineered drama involves little morality plays used to teach lessons.  My father owned an auto detailing business.  One of his workers was failing to adequately vacume into the nooks and crannies of seats.  Auto dealers allowed the detailers to keep any loose change found in their used vehicles.  One day, my father planted a $50 bill in the seat on a car for one of the other detailers to find.  It was a simple lesson, but effective.  Eldon became much more conscientious after that.

In order for engineered drama to be successful, you must allow the subject to experience the positive effects of the correct behavior or the negative impact of an undesirable action.  I heard a story about a staff directive at Jason Goldsmiths in the 1970s to refuse taking-in watches and pocket-watches for case repairs.  I think they concluded that soft-soldering lugs on gold-plated and silver watches was more trouble than it was worth.

They conscripted someone who worked next door to give “Grandpa’s heirloom pocket watch” to one particular staff member and beg them to fix the broken loop at the top.  When she hesitantly showed the job to the goldsmith, he looked at her incredulously, and told her “we don’t do watch-case repairs!” as he smashed the watch to smithereens with a hammer.

It was a great practical joke, but it was also a good case of engineered drama!  Can any of you relate?

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