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Working the Future blog: our latest insights and future of work sensemaking

The Social Brain: The psychology of successful groups – Tracey Camilleri, Samantha Rockey and Robin Dunbar,

2023-10-10 12:46

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Reading Room, FUTURE OF WORK, 21st CENTURY LEADERSHIP, CONNECTION & BELONGING, LEADERSHIP, WORKFORCE TRANSFORMATION, LEADERSHIP RESILIENCE, HYPERCONNECTIVITY,

The Social Brain: The psychology of successful groups – Tracey Camilleri, Samantha Rockey and Robin Dunbar, 2023

It’s time to move on from the outdated premise that organisations are mechanical, and accept them as emergent ecosystems, in all their glorious unpredictability

“It is a leader’s job to create an environment within which people thrive both as individuals and as a collective.”

 

The first sentence of The Social Brain had us hooked. What are the right environmental conditions that underpin human thriving at work? Work culture and workforce engagement have perplexed organisations and their leaders for decades. Despite the volumes of books that have been written to address these topics in recent years, we often wonder how much further forward we are.

 

The Social Brain shifts the narrative. Combining their experience in the fields of leadership and organisational development with anthropological research into the dynamics of group behaviour, the authors present a novel view of what’s all too often misunderstood in business today. Which is that work, productivity and outcomes are a deeply social affair.

 

We’ve long been fascinated by the optimal size of a business – that perfect sweet spot where a team coheres to deliver extraordinary results. And we think The Social Brain cracks it. Leveraging Robin Dunbar’s remarkable research into the number of stable social connections we humans can healthily maintain, the authors provide refreshing thinking on the topic of group dynamics and performance.

 

Yet as they write, “…it is precisely the conventionally unmeasurable that is actually the most important factor that determines how well an organisation performs.”

 

Perhaps, finally, it’s time to move on from the long-outdated premise that organisations are mechanical in nature, and accept them as emergent ecosystems, in all their glorious unpredictability.

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