One of the things that was running through my mind is the large number of the reality/contest shows that work on the format of getting rid of the least-popular or least-successful person each round, round by round, until the final two square off.
I think Survivor was the first of that modern breed, but almost all the multi-week contest shows work on that format, like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, where one person gets visited by The Turk each week. Or, The Apprentice, where someone gets to hear The Donald say "You're fired" each week.
The Weakest Link does that in game-showdom, and it's a Food Network staple format, with competitions to get new hosts and a new Iron Chef running that ditch-the-weakest format. A new half-hour show Chopped gets four chefs presenting appetizers; the weakest app gets to go home, then the weakest of the three entrees gets the cleaver, and then the weakest of the two deserts gets their bags packed.
Do we blame Survivor for this? No, try Jack Welch; he makes Trump look like a softie.
Each year, Welch would fire the bottom 10% of his managers. He earned a reputation for brutal candor in his meetings with executives. He would push his managers to perform, but he would reward those in the top 20% with bonuses and stock options. He also expanded the broadness of the stock options program at GE from just top executives to nearly one third of all employees. Welch is also known for destroying the nine-layer management hierarchy and bringing a sense of informality to the company.
What the contest shows do is to adopt the first half of the platform, ditching the bottom-rung employee.
In corporate America, many managers have a good cadre that they don't want to break up; if everyone is doing their job well, a boss shouldn't have to select one to offer up as sacrifice to the pink-slip god. One friends of ours left a job as a manager when his workplace had him implement the fire-the-bottom strategy when he really didn't have a bottom to fire; he had a bunch of good workers, none of which deserved to be fired. However, if you're playing the game of Corporate Survivor, someone has to get voted off the island each year.
What we might be seeing in places that have this strategy is a bit of risk-avoidance, both on a personal and business level. If the goal is to not be the weakest link, one should avoid standing out and be part of the pack. If you can aim to be in the 50% percentile, you won't get fired.
Aiming high can also make you stand out, which might put you in line for Welchian bonuses, but might also put you in the unemployment line if your efforts are not appreciated by your boss or your co-workers. You might be hustling and doing a great job, but you might be earning the enmity of the semi-slacking middle who you make look bad; they might make your life miserable and make you negatively stand out.
I even see a bit of this in Christian circles, where we tend to focus on a bottom 10% of capital-s Sinners who do all those things that Paul rails against; the rest of us can get into some spiritual Welchism and see us well above that 10% that will get us voted off Heaven Island. We all have our low-grade vices that are often well hidden, but we can get a false sense of security if we feel better than the real reprobates. That was what Jesus ripped the Pharasees for, seeing themselves better than the spiritual riff-raff.
Jesus was more about reaching the lost sheep, the 1% that weren't with the program. We need to be working at bringing people onto the island (a.k.a. the Kingdom of God) rather than voting them off.