The Ringelmann Effect and Social Loafing
Is less more?
Something to consider with regards to sport medicine and/or performance departments. The Ringelmann Effect suggests that individuals may be more likely to expend less effort on given task(s) the greater the size of the group. As an extension of this, the causative hypothesis may be related to Social Loafing - decreasing one's effort when they feel less responsible for the output.
The potential consequence aside from the obvious? Resentment from high performers.
It's Hard to Survive in the Jungle if You Were Trained in the Zoo
Replace "Jungle" with "Field" and "Zoo" with "Gym":
"It's hard to survive on the field if you were trained in the gym."
Field, ice, pitch, court...it's all the same. The principle is what matters.
We know this, yet we still work in silos.
Sonja Blignaut notes,
"Zoos are unnatural, ordered environments where animals are kept safely in enclosures (some closely mimicking the animal’s natural habitat), grouped according to specific categories. Zoos have their place; they play an essential role in the conservation of endangered species and in education. However, they are not resilient, and they are fundamentally different contexts when compared to natural ecosystems.
In the controlled zoo world, life is pretty predictable: enclosures or cages are cleaned regularly; animals are fed once or twice a day; even breeding is controlled. The enclosures keep animals apart (much like silos in modern organisations), so there is no need for animals to be alert and situationally aware as they’d be in the jungle, as there is no immediate threat to their survival. There is no predator-prey dynamic here, no competition for resources: so complacency and lethargy soon set in. Animals born in captivity who have been habituated to this context will not last long in the jungle."
"...organisations are still caught in outdated structures and linear, reductionist ways of thinking that don’t enable the effective flow of value or the collaboration that complex challenges require...The reality is that the fast-changing and dynamic context we now operate in requires engaged and empowered workers across all levels...The challenges we face require imagination, curiosity, and diverse perspectives. Instead of focusing on getting people back into their controlled enclosures, leaders should focus on creating enabling environments"
So, as we move from the (potential) negative effects of the Ringelmann Effect to creating productive and resilient environments (The Jungle), we need to encourage exposure and the" crossing of thresholds."
A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience, or a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up.
How often at work (micro) and in life (macro) are we faced with uncertainty and the need to step into a realm of discomfort in order to move forward and progress? It is in this space, often the unknown and almost always the uncomfortable, that lies a threshold that we must cross. And it is here that an acknowledgement must be made so that a transition can be achieved.
The Space of Not Knowing
For it is in this space of not knowing that creativity is liberated. And is here that lies opportunities to sit on the edge of, look and think outside of the box.
We must remain curious. For, as Abraham Flexner in The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (1939) states,
"Curiosity, which may or may not eventuate in something useful, is probably the outstanding characteristic of modern thinking. It is not new. It goes back to Galileo, Bacon, and to Sir Isaac Newton, and it must be absolutely unhampered. Institutions of learning should be devoted to the cultivation of curiosity and the less they are deflected by considerations of immediacy of application, the more likely they are to contribute not only to human welfare but to the equally important satisfaction of intellectual interest which may indeed be said to have become the ruling passion of intellectual life in modern times."
We are reminded in this timeless paper that it is not the immediacy of application that matters, but the persistence of thought. For the effects of curiosity and thought may not arise until many miles downstream.
"Throughout the whole history of science, most of really the great discoveries which had ultimately proved to be beneficial to mankind had been made my men and women who were driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity."
Because, as I stated in OLAD:
To discover is to reveal, or make light to, that which is already there. Because discovery is simply the merging, or by product, of two or more concepts.
"Thus it becomes obvious that one must be wary in attributing scientific discovery wholly to anyone person. Almost every discovery has a long and precarious history. Someone finds a bit here, another a bit there. A third step succeeds later and thus onward till a genius pieces the bits together and makes the decisive contribution. Science, like the Mississippi, begins in a tiny rivulet in the distant forest. Gradually other streams swell its volume. And the roaring river that bursts the dikes is formed from countless sources."
It is not the existence of knowledge, but the convergence and cross-pollination of knowledge, that drives progress.