I just read an interesting article in Science News. (March 27th, 2010 issue)

Someone took the time run some statistics. They discovered that on the Titanic, women and children truly did board the life rafts first. There were exceptions, but generally, social order prevailed.

In contrast, when the Lusitania was sunk by a German torpedo, being a woman or child actually decreased your chances at survival while being a male 16-30 years old increased your likelihood of making it to shore.

The difference?

It took the Titanic more than two hours to sink. The Lusitania went down in 18 minutes.

The take-away from this? It takes time to establish social order—or practice, as those who have served in combat understand.

Next time your people are throwing each other out of the lifeboat, take a look at their time constraints.

Think about this. If you build slack into a project or even the work week itself, you may just improve internal civility and morale.

Chris Reich of TeachU has looked at the daily rhythm and has a very cool tool to smooth over any rough work environment.