Discussion of 12 Angry Men

 

1. Context: the halls of justice

a. Show seating diagram.

b. Show opening screen: halls of justice

c. Purpose of the group is external, not individuals

d. I want you to think of this as a model for a team making decisions in a corporation. The issue is not how does fonda win, but how to help a group make the right decision.

2. Up to the gamble vote [ - issues of good team decision making

a. Structural Design

i. Start by identifying the problem and a strategy for solving it

ii. Talk about the process you will follow, how to work together etc.

iii. [lack of] task and maintenance functions.

(1) Lack of clear task leadership, structure they must follow.

(2) no way to ensure that everyone participates and is heard

iv. In an organization, need to set up the rules and values explicitly

b. Culture

i. Strong solution mindedness: pressure to move ahead and decide while sweeping exploratory questions under the table

ii. Pressure to conform to majority. People look around the round to decide how to vote

iii. It is a defensive rather than supportive environment: members are critical and condescending and dominating

iv. People can be as disruptive as they choose

v. Culture of intolerance and prejudice

(1) big mistake because some people are secretly offended.

c. Personalities & traits

i. A lot of Js in the crowd. Fonda is a P

ii. Much more diversity in background and situations than you at first suspect. Fonda exploits these differences

iii. the pro-guiltys are not monolithic. By being mean to each other, they crack, and fonda helps by sticking knife in the cracks

d. Politics and networks

i. Not everyone is equally committed to a guilty verdict (list in order

(1) guilty: garage owner, stock broker, the bigot, the baseball guy

(2) sympathizers: pip squeak, klugman, old man, greek watchmaker

ii. Some are just intimidated

iii. Long term, it is Fonda and the stockbroker who have the most influence, because both remain logical, rational, in control, articulate, and do not have personal agendas.

iv. Basic tactics you see early on are rational persuasion, demonstrations, pressure tactics, coalition formations

v. The E=s, the very vocal at first, and at first this gives influence -- without fonda, the I=s might not ever have come out

vi. Lots of affective and substantive conflict -- but actual issues are not really discussed

(1) why they are there

(2) how to proceed

(3) who should have influence

vii. At end of this section, he has one friend, and the painter has already connected with the friend (forbidden triad)

(1) agreement follows liking

3. Managing the process [still same point in film] -- strategies

a. What can be done by fonda and by the other side?

b. Fonda is in minority position. So he should:

i. Push team members to follow more structured decision-making format -- introduce rules, bureaucracy

ii. Use private voting to deal with pressure to conform

iii. Even out participation -- hear from those who have been intimidated

iv. Assign task and maintenance functions to members

v. Empower the quiet members

vi. Be non-threatening, likable to the decent people

(1) his decency and concern wakes it up in others

vii. Focus on the super-ordinate goals, making private agendas illegitimate

viii. Emphasize how bad prejudice is

ix. Don't confront too much: doesn't work if not majority.

x. Stay neutral: consistent with superordinate goals, not private agenda

xi. Remain calm and rational

xii. Get the others to lose control, show private agendas; discredit them

xiii. Form coalitions

xiv. Develop positive norms, such as rationality

xv. Makes himself vulnerable: not as big a target, and leads some to admire him and try to protect him

xvi. Realizing that the callous prejudice of others will hurt some members, and split them off. Agreement follows affect.

c. For the majority position, it is an issue of whether they want to win or make the right decision.

i. By using intimidation, sheer dominance, pressure to conform etc, they have a high chance of winning

ii. But this sort of approach does not exactly foster real thinking about the issues

(1) doesn=t get good solutions to problems

iii. In this case, that may not be an issue: these people have nothing invested in making the right decision, but in business its different.

4. Moving From Minority to Majority [last third of movie]

a. Taking cough drop from bank teller to legitimize him

b. Remaining neutral rather than advocate

c. As he empowers others, they help

i. Bank teller (pipsqueak) begins to stand up for himself

d. Takes on task and maintenance roles and changing the norms of the group

i. Watchmaker calls upon members to follow justice

e. New interpretations, discussion, creativity starts spreading

f. Use visual demos: duplicate knife, timing old man, I'll kill him" -- baited by Fonda

g. Fonda's group stands for the right values

h. As majority grows, starts getting more confrontational and using more tactics of the majority. "You are alone.", says fonda, evilly

5. Some final suggestions for the future

a. Think about who will be or should be at meeting

b. Minimize anxiety

c. Discuss how you will approach things before doing it

d. Make clear the big values and goals: what is legitimate and not legitimate

e. Use anonymous voting

f. Think about each individual's style, needs, background, and how to influence them: exploiting differences