The Psychology of Design

Part III: Contextual and Antecedent Dynamics

For those of us who were teenagers in the 1980s, the teen comedy classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was a classic movie for many reasons. As teenagers, we could relate to the stifling school environment that Ferris Bueller sought to escape from, and we all wanted a day off …. anyone, anyone?  Ferris worked hard and he worked smart to engineer a great day off school.  We admired his relaxed approach to adventure, his skilled use of gadgets and computers, and his ability to get along with everyone. Ferris also offered us his simple version of mindfulness, illustrated in the classic opening and closing lines to the movie:

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

My kids certainly appreciated the sentiment when we watched the movie recently.

Indeed, life moves even faster these days. Information outputs and exchanges have accelerated. The number of apps and gadgets and ‘systems’ we use to manage information complexity and life challenges is mind boggling.  Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy of “move fast and break things” seems strange to those of us who grew up in households where our mother reminding us regularly ‘not to break things’.  And the manic pace of ‘disruptive technology’ design seems, well, a little disruptive – and certainly a world away from Ferris Bueller’s relaxed approach to life design.

Well, in this blog series, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, system design work isn’t easy.  It’s not easy because system design work requires systems thinking, and systems thinking takes time.  Some people say that the era of “move fast and break things” is over.  Thank God, I hear my grandmother say! But is it really over – really?  We need to stop and look around.  In reality, it’s not easy to slow down and design better systems when everyone around you is running around distractedly looking for ‘new ways to be disruptive’.  The drive to “move fast and innovate” is ever-present — even if you think you’re not breaking things.  Perhaps what we really need is more speed and less haste.  Perhaps, as we make the move from ‘breaking things’ to working cooperatively to design quality systems, we can keep in mind the words of Mitsuyo Maeda: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is Fast”.  A quality system design process might seem slow, but it’s much faster than one hasty mess after another. A critical mass of people need to slow down together for the era of “move fast and break things” to be truly over.  This involves culture change, and culture change takes time.

As we mentioned in the previous blog post, the (slow) learning and application of systems thinking design methods can help groups. And group facilitators can help groups. Facilitators can help design teams with the application of systems thinking methods and the group dynamics involved in the application of these methods.

Good, we can debate this further, but slowing down is often a good start. It allows groups to experience something akin to the ‘extended now’ moment Eckhart Tolle talks about. Now, at least, the design group can begin to embrace the reality that societal systems are complex – there are many elements that need to be considered. This seems obvious when we think about it – particularly when we embrace the systems thinking process – but, still, people are reluctant to slow down and put aside the time needed for systems thinking design work.

We’ve mentioned the excellent book by Michael Jackson, Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity, and all the systems thinking methods a group might use to get a handle on technical complexity (e.g., Operations Research, Systems Engineering), process complexity (e.g., the Vanguard Method), structural complexity (e.g., System Dynamics), organisational complexity (e.g., Organisational Cybernetics and the Viable Systems Model), people complexity (e.g., Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing, Interactive Planning, Soft Systems Methodology), and coercive complexity (e.g., Team Syntegrity, and Critical Systems Heuristics).  Another method we can add to this list is Interactive Management (IM), an applied systems thinking method developed by John Warfield. We have used Warfield’s method in number of projects, including technology design projects. We’ve also combined IM with scenario-based design methods, and, as mentioned, we recognise that methods are not ‘separate’ from one another — they can be usefully combined. We recognise that group facilitators need to continue learning new methods and help design teams think through an optimal synthesis of methods to support project work. 

There’s great joy in trying out new methods. Of course, this joy manifests – even if only for brief moments – in the context of complex groups dynamics.  Let’s enter this complex space now.

Enter the Group, Enter the Dynamics  

Given the quality of communication and collaborative action required, the application of systems thinking design methods often involves working with small groups (e.g., 5 – 20 people). However, methods can scale to larger groups (e.g., organisations, communities) and the influence of systems thinking design projects can scale to global level impacts.  Regardless of what you think of their products, it’s worth nothing that the “move fast and break things” community are often, at their core, comprised of relatively small design teams, but when they push their designs out into the world, the global impact of the designs — as my granny might say – ‘can be a little disruptive’.

Regardless of the system design methodology selected, it’s important to note that groups will have varying levels of past experience working together and regardless of the size of the group working together, their {small group dynamics} are always embedded in {larger group dynamics} that influence their functioning and societal impact. 

From a group facilitation perspective, given the process focus of systems thinking and design work, we make a distinction in our paper between {proximal} and {distal} group dynamics, that is, dynamics that play out in the proximal interactions between group members during the systems thinking groupwork phase (located in a central position in Figure 1), and the broader antecedent, contextual, transition and post-session group dynamics within which systems thinking groupwork interactions occur. 

As we move to talk about group dynamics, I want to make something clear: Michael Jackson’s book, Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity, is a brilliant book.  I can’t recommend it enough. But you may notice an interesting gap as you read – the book says less about how to facilitate groups in the use of systems thinking design methods.  Yes, I hear you, this is the type of ‘interesting gap’ that perhaps only a group facilitator would notice.  While often ignored, the role of the group facilitator is important.  Now this varies across approaches, but the application of systems thinking methods in a group design project generally involves working with a facilitator, and sometimes, a facilitation team.  The facilitator(s) work closely with the expert and stakeholder group, helping them apply methods in a way that is fit for purpose.  From our perspective as group facilitators following Warfield’s method – and we are strict in this regard – the facilitation team focuses exclusively on method and process, and thus we adopt a curious, reflective, and neutral position in relation to systems thinking content.  In other words, the ‘content’ of system design work is exclusively the product of the stakeholder and expert group.

While most of the skilled engagement of the facilitation team centres on supporting groups in the application of systems thinking methods, facilitators also need to understand, monitor, and manage the proximal groupwork dynamics that play out within the group during the application of the method. And facilitators need to understand, monitor, and manage more distal group dynamics. This includes the antecedent, contextual dynamics that influence how systems thinking sessions are brokered and organised in advance of groupwork. It includes the transition dynamics that influence the coming together of a group and their initial productive functioning.  And it also includes the post-session group dynamics that influence the ongoing systems thinking and design process and outcomes.  

We’re going to talk about all these different phases of work as we move forward here. The main reason for this wide lens of analysis and engagement – where we focus on distal group dynamics in addition to proximal group dynamics – is because, very often, facilitation teams are embedded as part of a project for an extended period of time.  As such, the facilitation team needs to maintain a focus on group facilitation in a principled and informed manner and in a way that serves the productive and successful workings of the group.  Overall, this implies understanding distinct but overlapping aspects of group dynamics during different phases of working with a group.  While these phases can vary depending on the method used, systems thinking project work tends to have a duration that extends from months to years, and even decades in some cases (Broome, 2006). 

Our group dynamics framework is presented in Figure 1.  The relevant scientific literature for educational programme designers can be accessed across a variety of textbooks (e.g., Forsyth, 2014, 2018; Levi & Askay, 2020). I’ll include a few hyperlinks in the flow going forward, but they are largely for illustrative purposes and to give you a sense of where analysis and exploration can take you in your group dynamics adventures. My advice is to begin by reading the textbooks – they’re ideal for reflective thinking and as a prompt for context-specific analysis work. 

Antecedent and Contextual Dynamics

Let’s begin by noting a few key considerations in relation to Antecedent and Contextual Dynamics, located to the left of Figure 1.  The key aspects of group dynamics we focus on here relate to (a) Inclusion and Identity, (b) Power, and (c) Structure.  It should be noted that we are doing two things as we work.  First, we are analysing the existing empirical group dynamics literature to understand the types of dynamics that have been observed across different study contexts.  Second, we are analysing our local problem situation in an effort to understand group dynamics that are operative, while also working to anticipate and plan for the different group dynamics that may play out when groups come together to engage in collaborative project work. 

In simple terms, in advance of inviting a group to engage in a systems thinking design session, we need to do our homework and engage in some advance planning.  A curious, reflective, and neutral stance in relation to all aspects of engagement, analysis, planning, and simulation of groupwork is sustained throughout, in advance of working with a group, while working with a group, and in follow-up work with a group.  To begin with, we need to understand Inclusion and Identity dynamics. This often begins with a process of mapping the stakeholder and expert ecosystem.  This is essential if you want to design a process that is truly collaborative and cooperative, including and engaging key stakeholders and experts.  In this context, the group facilitator needs to understand the effects of inclusion and exclusion on group behaviour, the influence of group identity on behaviour, and inter-group interdependencies including in-group and out-group dynamics.  Key questions you might ask here include:

  • Have you a clear understanding of the stakeholders and stakeholder groupings for whom the problem you are addressing is directly relevant? 
  • Do you have an understanding of the key expert groups and domains of knowledge and skill that are relevant to address the problem?
  • Do you have an understanding of how different group identities influence the perception of the problem situation?
  • Do you have an understanding of how people with different group identities perceive one another and behave in relation to one another?   
  • Do you have knowledge of the history of inclusion and exclusion of different stakeholder and expert groupings in the context of past efforts to address the problem, and the impact of inclusion/exclusion dynamics on current experience and behaviour within and across groups?
  • Can you perceive and anticipate inter-group interdependencies that are important for modelling both the current state of the system, and future transformations of the system?

Also critical for brokerage and planning of systems thinking groupwork is an understanding of Power dynamics, including the group dynamics linked to status, compliance, and power use and sharing within and between stakeholder and expert groups. While systems thinking facilitators need to manage and monitor equality of input and influence during groupwork, they also need to understand how power dynamics influence group activity and productivity throughout the whole lifecycle of a project.  Key questions here include:

  • How are status and power differences between group members likely to influence their communication and collaborative engagement during a systems thinking session, and during follow-up system design implementation work?
  • Do you have an understanding of compliance histories between groups and members, and can you simulate how past and present dynamics will influence future power use and power sharing dynamics that are proposed as part of system change? 

Importantly, a comprehensive understanding of inclusion, identity, and power dynamics cannot be achieved without an understanding of group Structure, including the roles, norms, and network structure of groups. Immersion in the working context of groups is needed to understand the specific dynamics at play.  Members of the facilitation team will often use the word ‘immersion’ in this context, as it highlights both the depth of reflective engagement — and time — needed to develop an understanding of groups and their organisations in advance of bringing stakeholders and experts together. 

Systems design project work is often initiated on the assumption that partnerships across stakeholders, experts, and implementation teams will be established. From a naïve point of view, they might be assumed to be ‘a given’ — but these partnerships play out across multiple group structures and organisations, which often operate with different norms, across a diverse role landscape, and with a collection of stronger and weaker network ties within and across groups and organisations.  Understanding the overall structure of groups across this landscape is important for effective group facilitation. 

None of this is easy, and indeed, it’s only the beginning.  In the next post, we will consider the transition dynamics, as we seek to facilitate groups to work productively together – assuming we can get them to the design room in the first instance!  


Broome, B. J. (2006). Applications of Interactive Design Methodologies in Protracted Conflict Situations, in Lawrence Frey (Ed.), Facilitating group communication in context: Innovations and applications with natural groups, pp. 125-154, Hampton Press.

The Psychology of Design: Reflecting on Methods

Part II: The group is greater than the method

System design work is not easy.  Sometimes, when you’re out walking or cycling your bike, or maybe simply pouring a glass of water while taking a break, an idea or aphorism might arise in your mind. For example, I was pouring a glass or water this morning and the following idea popped into my head: the pathway to success is through method.  I was thinking about many methods that same day – the research methods my students are using for their project work, the method the builders would be using when they arrived later to fix our leaking roof, the online teaching methods teachers have been using recently when working with our kids, the methods young career researchers would need to master to progress and succeed in academia.  But I was also thinking about systems thinking methods and the broader challenges we face in working together collaboratively to address societal problems.  Indeed, as noted in the previous post, there are many methods we can use to help with our systems design work.  We mentioned Harry Stack Sullivan and Jeffrey Masson, and the problem of ‘psychiatry’:  how to design a system of interpersonal relations that helps people adapt to various problems in living. In a loose narrative, we suggested that the capacity of the system to empathise and help is a critical issue, and we wondered how to approach the design challenge.  My water-pouring aphorism, the pathway to success is through method, prompts further reflection in relation to the design methods we might use. 

The Magic of Methods

I read an excellent book recently, which I will recommend at this point. The book is written by Michael Jackson, and has the weighty title: Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity.  The book showcases a range of systems thinking and design methods for working in the context of technical complexity (e.g., Operations Research, Systems Engineering), process complexity (e.g., the Vanguard Method), structural complexity (e.g., System Dynamics), organisational complexity (e.g., Organisational Cybernetics and the Viable Systems Model), people complexity (e.g., Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing, Interactive Planning, Soft Systems Methodology), and coercive complexity (e.g., Team Syntegrity, and Critical Systems Heuristics). 

Of course, these methods are not ‘separate’ from one another — they can be usefully combined.  For example, when thinking about ‘the problem of psychiatry’, looking in particular at long waiting lists for mental health services and the poor operating capacity of the health service in your region, you might apply the Vanguard Method to understand and optimise the process of referral, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up; and you might apply Strategic Assumptions Surfacing and Testing to understand potentially conflicting assumptions regarding service delivery from the perspective of different stakeholders. You might build upon your Vanguard analysis and use methods from operations research to mathematically model queuing, inventory, allocation, replacement, and coordination problems; and you might use system dynamics methods to analyse the financial and human capital requirements into the future, modelling the impact of demographic changes. Looking more closely at infrastructure and specific organisations across your region, you might use a viable systems model lens to map and reflect on the viability of organisational structures and operational activities in collaboration with front-line staff, management, and regional and national mental health leaders working to optimise viable organisational deigns.  Working with others across a series of interconnected design projects, you might engage in what Michael Jackson calls Critical Systems Multimethodology, that is, where you apply multiple methods as needed to redesign your mental health systems and services.  Or you could engage in some loose thinking, or ‘follow the leader’ behaviour, where you introduce some changes that few people have considered deeply.  This can even include the type of loose thinking where leaders advocate system-wide changes in mental health services based on the evidence from a set of ‘promising’ randomised controlled trials coupled with a vague implementation framework that frames practice considerations across a narrow set of contextual variables. 

It might seem a little scary at first for psychologists, who generally have little or no disciplinary training in any of these methods, but critical systems multimethodology is open to learning.  Indeed, we can begin this methodological training in our undergraduate psychology programmes.  Across multiple programmes, at the group level, we might naturally begin to see cumulative growth in the range of methods available to us.  Prompted by Harry Stack Sullivan, we might argue that the design challenge requires engagement from many different ‘personalities’, in particular, different people possessing a variety of different methodological ‘skills’ and associated ‘behavioural repertoires’.  Naturally, these ‘personalities’ are not – and should not be — isolated from interpersonal relationships with one another. Together, as their methodological skill set grows, they have the potential to design ‘psychiatry’ as a system of interpersonal relations that helps people adapt to various problems in living. Ultimately, their system design methods shapes their implementation and operational methods – their practice on the ground, the way they help people in need of help. 

The group is greater than the method

It seems like a simple vision, but the usual problems arise: the disciplinary training is too narrow; the disciplines operate in silos using different methods; and transdisciplinary systems methods, including those described by Michael Jackson, have no home in any of the disciplines, and ramble about the houses looking for friends and partners. Meanwhile, the stakeholders wonder what we’re doing and what progress we’re making.  Psychology as a discipline, much like other disciplines, simply needs to broaden its horizons a little; and then, with growing confidence and skill, we can collectively experiment with Critical Systems Multimethodology.  It will not take us long to see where it all fits together – we will see the natural extension of our critical thinking abilities and our capacity for skilled tool use.  We will see the group rather than individuals alone.  We will see synergies and new opportunities for partnership.  We will see the potential to advance our collective intelligence and collective capacity to address the ‘problem of psychiatry’ and other, related societal problems. 

Of course, as we expand outward, we will also see the context in which we work. We see more than the ‘problem situation’ itself – now we see all the people operating within, across, above, and beyond the problem situation.  We see the deeper truth in relation to method – the action of our multimethodology takes place within the operation of our group dynamics.  The field of group dynamics rises to prominence.  And so we turn our attention now to the group dynamics, but please, continue to learn more about the systems thinking and design methods, because our aphorism still holds true — the pathway to success is through method – only now we know that methods only function to the extent that the group using the method functions.  The group is greater than the method.  

The Psychology of Design

Understanding the interpersonal dimension of the design process

As a young teenager rambling around my house in the 1980s, back in a time when there was nothing on TV and no internet, I recall coming across a copy of Harry Stack Sullivan’s book, Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry.  Our house was peppered with thousands of books that caused my mother some difficulty every time it came to repainting.  I was more of a browser and less of a reader back then – more content moving the stacks of books for my mother, weeding the garden, waxing the car, climbing trees, anything active. But Harry Stack Sullivan immediately struck me as interesting and I paused for a time to read. Indeed, browsing had exposed me to many ideas, and I never took to the intrapsychic focus of Freud. In the opening section of his book, Sullivan pointed urgently to important truths, specifically, that ‘personality’ cannot be isolated from interpersonal relationships and that the field of ‘psychiatry’ is the field of interpersonal relations under all circumstances in which such relations exist. 

Being Irish, I agreed immediately.  Deep in my bones, I always viewed ‘personality’ as our distinctive behaviour in interpersonal contexts, and it made sense to me that ‘psychiatry’ should be defined as a system of interpersonal relations designed to help people adapt to various problems in living, particularly when they present to the community as suffering or struggling in some way. It was only later I realised, but it was interesting to discover that Harry Stack Sullivan had Irish parents too, although he himself didn’t experience the best of Irish community life, growing up in the anti-Catholic neighbourhoods of Norwich, New York, where he struggled as a consequence of the interpersonal milieu.

There’s no doubt, we all struggle at times and another book that struck me as interesting as an undergraduate studying psychology was a book by Jeffrey Masson, Against Therapy.  The book offered a critique of therapy, and psychiatry more generally, noting the fundamental problem of imbalanced power relations between the ‘therapist’ and the ‘patient’.  While offering no alternative to the systems of therapy and psychiatry on offer at the time, Masson somewhat vaguely alludes to the value of peer support systems.  A reasonable suggestion perhaps, even if no reasonable societal design was proposed by Masson. 

Alas, Masson’s book was essentially a critique of existing systems. And you might say that a critique of existing systems is an important catalyst for system design work. Sure, and few will disagree in principle – the voice of dissent, critique, and ‘opposition’ is fundamental to the political process — but you still have to engage in design thinking, and you have to further implement and evaluate your new designs. 

When faced with the inadequacies of societal system designs, poor infrastructures and poor support systems, it’s perhaps too easy for the bulk of our energies to be directed at a critique of the system, and the danger here is that this leaves us with less energy for system redesign work. A balance needs to be struck. We simply need to be aware of our limited energies and proceed as best we can.

The Work Required for System Redesign

What would a reasonable system of ‘psychiatry’ look like – that is, reasonably feasible, impactful, sustainable?  Some initial thoughts may come to mind while you’re talking with others. For example, you might say it needs to have capacity to empathise and help address many different forms of suffering and struggling that community members present with.  Indeed, observable empathy and help are needed as a signal to community members that they can present to the community without fear of stigma or rejection, and they will indeed be helped.

In conversation with others, we might expand upon the idea of ‘capacity’ and propose that ‘requisite capacity’ implies that there be a set of practices, norms, roles, tools, methods, medicines, and patterns of interpersonal relating that fundamentally help members of our community who are suffering and struggling. That may be more of a system specification than Masson provides in his book, but it’s clearly not enough.  A vague wish-list is not a system.  Of course, the conversation has to start somewhere.

Notwithstanding the challenge of simply identifying a set {of practices, roles, methods, etc…} that help community members (e.g, by drawing upon the evidence from randomised controlled trials), requisite capacity, even in a system that abolishes the problem of power relations, implies requisite capital {finance, assets, infrastructure, etc…}. In an ideal world, the capital investment is considered a public good, and thus the funds used are public rather than private funds, and there is no ‘for-profit’ dimension in the public good. 

But we also need a form of human capital that not only delivers on a system design, but fundamentally takes ownership in innovating and reengineering the set of {practices, tools, medicines, patterns of interpersonal relating, etc…} the community is using, in a way that sustains a reasonably feasible and impactful operating system over time.  The broader community and group dynamics are important here, and it’s not just power relations that need to be considered in the overall design.  The financial and human capital investment is significant.

Principles That Shape the Design Process

And thus you might ask, what principles will shape the system design process?  An academic might excitedly jump in, following John Rawls, and say, well, the system should be designed in a way that empowers its members, but that the liberty of any one member should not infringe on the liberty of others; differences in socioeconomic status across members of the community, if they cannot be eradicated completely, should be transformed in a way that is beneficial to the community as a whole – and any inequality that does exist should have no bearing on the potential political power of any one member of the community.  Some people in the design room may nod their head knowingly, others may smile kindly and quizzically and ask the speaker to repeat the statement, and others may look upon the speaker with mild scepticism or even mild distain, perhaps, because the principles voiced are too abstract, do not match the reality, are insufficient for transformative design work, or simply don’t go far enough. So, how far will the community go, what will the community do? 

Perhaps it’s useful to return again to Harry Stack Sullivan’s starting point, and ask how we — as a collection of ‘personalities’ with our distinctive behaviour in context — can establish a system of interpersonal relations that allows us to design a feasible, impactful, sustainable system that helps us to adapt to a host of different problems in living.  Over the next six blog posts, I’m going to return again to a focus on systems thinking and collective action capabilities needed to address societal challenges.  I’m going to expand on a recent paper we wrote and focus on system design project work, and more specifically, the importance of understanding the group dynamics and interpersonal relations that shape project work. I think it’s useful to note as we proceed that it’s somewhat understandable from a historical, and indeed evidential, perspective why communities, groups, and teams are not often very skilled in managing their own group dynamics.  We don’t have a long history of integral enquiry in this domain — the basic research we have access to often simply provides a basic understanding, which in turn needs to be negotiated in any implementation effort.  At the same time, if we want to enhance our collective intelligence and system design capabilities, we need to do our best to understand, monitor, and manage group dynamics during system design project work.  We need to start the conversation.

Given the nature of systemic societal challenges focused broadly on issues of well-being, sustainability, productivity, and innovation, in some of the work we have previously published in this area we have argued that educational training focused on group process facilitation should be included as part of broader, integrated programmes focused on applied systems science and the management of complexity (Hogan, Harney, Broome, 2015; Hogan and Broome 2020).  When thinking about the group dynamics that play out in system design projects, our recent paper suggests that it’s useful to consider the proximal interactions between group members in their efforts to understand the system they are operating in and the type of system redesign they would like to see; but it’s also useful to consider the broader group dynamics within which project work unfolds over time.  This implies understanding distinct but overlapping aspects of group dynamics during different phases of working with a group.

There are many different methods we can use when approaching the challenge of systems thinking and system design work, but these methods are applied in the context of exceedingly complex group dynamics. Our ability to understand, monitor, and manage group dynamics will always be limited and constrained in certain respects, but we can usually work constructively within these constraints and limitations. One way or another, in order to facilitate groups and help them along the path to the design of better systems, we need to immerse ourselves in the process and speak openly about the dynamic waters in which we swim.


Hogan, M. J., Harney O., & Broome, B. (2015). Catalyzing Collaborative Learning and Collective Action for Positive Social Change through Systems Science Education. In: Wegerif, R., Kaufman, J. Li L (eds). The Routledge Handbook of Research on Teaching Thinking. London: Routledge.

Hogan, M.J., Broome, B. (2021).  Facilitation and the focus on process. Systems Research and Behavioral Science.

Collective Behavior Algorithms and Group Size: dynamic choices are most accurate in small groups.

Collective behaviourGroup living is common across many species, and group sizes range from small (e.g., the Elephant herd and Lion pride) to very large (e.g., bird flocks or fish schools). Different species evolved varying group sizes under different environmental conditions but, one way or another, group living evolved because of its many benefits – a critical one being that the offspring of group members stand a better chance at survival due to the collective behavior of the group.

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A commentary on ‘Big Mind: how collective intelligence can change our world’ by Geoff Mulgan

geoffThere are many ways of thinking about human intelligence. The humorous quip you might hear on the street is that academics have generated so many ways of thinking about intelligence that the concept is now completely unintelligible. Still, talk of intelligence has not yet gone out of fashion. I recall sitting opposite a famous Scottish psychologist in an Edinburgh café, asking the question, How would you define intelligence? He answered succinctly with a smile: Intelligence is the ability to figure things out. His definition was as much an invitation to explore as anything else.

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Sabotage in Academia: understanding the nature and causes of sabotage in academia


Sabotage in the workplace is not something we think about every day, and it might seem strange to think about sabotage behaviours playing out in academic work settings.  Sabotage has been described as any form of behaviour that is intentionally designed to negatively affect service (Harris and Ogbonna, 2002 p. 166).  Worryingly, 85% of service employees consider sabotage to be an ‘everyday occurrence’ in their organisations (Harris and Ogbonna, 2002).  When researchers investigate employee performance in academia, they tend to focus on research performance (Edgar and Geare, 2011), or the relationship between research performance and teaching quality (Cadez et al., 2017).  They rarely think about sabotage. 
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