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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Leadership for collective thinking in the work place

Purpose - The intention in writing this paper is: to first to raise awareness in organizations of the ubiquitous nature of thinking in teams and informal groups; second to provide the reader with conceptual tools for understanding the subtle dynamics of 'team-level' thinking and third to offer some practical suggestions to leaders and consultants on ways of actively working to increase the quality of collective thinking in work places. Approach - The paper is largely theoretical and extends current theory about the utilization of knowledge and intelligence in teams and organizations. Findings - The four core elements to effective collective thinking are proposed as: shared clarity of purpose; emotionally and psychologically mature functioning on the part of key players; the necessity for psychologically safe 'thinking spaces' and shared responsibility for building, maintaining and utilizing the thinking space. It is further proposed that many essential influences on collective thinking exist outside the usual limits of awareness - that is, they occur as unconscious processes - and so developing powerful collective thinking requires that attention be paid to symbolic, non-rational and intuitive patterns in teams and organizations. Practical implications - The paper provides theoretical and practical frameworks that enable members of organizations to directly address factors influencing the quality of collective thinking in the systems in which they are involved. Value - The fresh contribution of this paper is largely that it integrates intuitive, subtle and unconscious dynamics with rational logical principles so as to create powerful new principles to enable leaders and consultants to enhance organizational effectiveness.'