You can take the leader out of the system…(no really, you can)

close up photography of yellow green red and brown plastic cones on white lined surface

Photo by Pixabay on

In the past few weeks there have been a number of high profile leadership moves in the Australian business world. Last week the CEO of Blackmores resigned with the board flagging the need for “transformational change” from his replacement while media veteran Ita Buttrose has been made chairperson of the ABC. What is perhaps most interesting about this, to me anyway, is that the media coverage and assumptions underpinning these moves highlight an outdated view of leadership and leading. Let me explain. First, a short trip through the history of leadership theory.

For much of human history leaders have been thought of in terms of heredity. Think Kings and other inherited titles. Over time this was expanded to military power (often also drawn from the elites) and the power of the church. Looking at leadership through this lens is what is often called trait theory which posits that leaders are born and not made. If leadership is a trait or set of traits then they cannot be taught and so one is born to lead. This made a lot of sense when one was indeed born to rule based on who one’s parents were. Onwards into the industrial revolution and first world war however and people began recognising a need for more and better leaders and so a theoretical shift occurred towards behavioural theory. Behavioural approaches to leadership argue that leadership is a set of behaviours that can be taught but that some people might be naturally better at than others. You may recognise this approach if you have ever gone on a leadership training program. Leaders need to be visionaries, good communicators, etc. Over time there has been a greater recognition that leadership can be influenced by context (situational approaches) and also the personality of the leader (charismatic and transformational approaches). All of these approaches to leadership focus on the leader as central to business and government. Not only is this unfair to the individuals who can’t be all things to all people, it fails to take into account a more nuanced view of organisations taken from complexity approaches.

Anyone who has read this blog before knows that I am an unashamed advocate for the insights that complexity approaches offer for understanding organisations and so it will come as no surprise that I think it applies to leading and leadership too. I’ve had the chance to think through these issues as a long-time L&D person but also in teaching the subject Leading Learning at UTS where we explore contemporary approaches to leading. I’ve written on this topic before here and here where I questioned whether our traditional ways of developing leaders were appropriate in complex organisational contexts.

In this post, I want to introduce the idea that leaders should not be positioned as central to organisational success. What I mean by that is that if you look at contemporary approaches to leading – such as complexity, practice theory or postmodern approaches – they take a systemic view of organisations. If we accept that organisations are systems then you also need to accept the premise that placing so much expectation on one person to be the visionary, the model citizen, the strategist, and everything else expected of “the leader” is pointless as it is the interactions within the system between people/people, people/things, people/spaces, etc. which shape the system. This is why, I strongly suspect, attempts at culture and procedural change are often very difficult to shift even with a change of leader. A leader may be a public figurehead for an organisation but in reality has little control over how the organisation runs and the practices which hold behaviours and attitudes in place. Indeed, I have seen research using social network analysis which has shown that CEOs are often some of the worst connected, most isolated people in the social networks of organisations.

Emergence and unpredictability are core elements of complex adaptive organisations yet we continue to approach management and leadership in the same mechanistic way as we have since the days of the industrial revolution. Leaders are a part, and a product, of the overlapping organisational systems that they are a part of. Leaders therefore need to be treated and developed to have a systems mindset, a commitment to flexibility and adaptability, and a sense of their interdependent place in the whole rather than as a “first among equals”.


Interrogating innovation

New is always better

My life seems to be all about innovation at the moment. I’ve been teaching Designing Innovative Learning and Evaluating Learning and Innovation this semester, worked on a winter school intensive program last July called Leading Innovation, and hearing about innovation seemingly every time I turn on the TV or walk into an organisation. It is, in short, very much the zeitgeist. The focus on innovation is understandable. The world is moving faster than ever and advances in technology and ways of collaborating have made people acutely aware of the need to continually learn and adapt. Innovation appears to have fulfilled this need by offering a way forward through the seeming chaos. A toolbox of methods and a mindset shift which made it OK to come up with new ideas and try new things.

Innovation can be a slippery concept to define. What strikes me more is that when I hear people, such as employees or students, talk about innovation there is no interrogation of what the term means in general or within a specific context. I see this as problematic. On the one hand, perhaps it is just something that we all know when we see it. On the other hand, however, a lack of clear and universally accepted definitions of innovation and innovating provides cracks through which good intentions can fall. But what is meant by innovation? What does innovation look like? Often the discourses around innovation are around the tools, but what exactly does it mean to innovate?

To try to answer this question I designed an activity for my Designing Innovative Learning classes this semester to try and start a conversation about the nature of innovation using music as a discussion stimulus. Yes, music. Music and musicians are often touted as being innovative. Artists such as David Bowie, Lady Gaga, and Queen are often described as being innovative but what is it that makes them so?

Before our first class, I ask students to think about a piece of music which they see as being innovative. Then, they need to post a clip of the music to the class online discussion board and explain why they chose that piece of music. What is it about that piece of music that is innovative to them? This is the interesting part. Student choices range from classical music to 80’s pop but they all had two things in common. Firstly, a key theme which emerged was that the class overwhelmingly saw innovation as putting existing things together in new ways to make something new for a particular time and place. The time and place part is important because it ties into the second theme which was that innovation is context and individually specific. What is innovative to one person, time, or place may not be to another. I think that this is important and not often considered. Everyone has different experiences and expectations influence their opinions – these need to be taken into account with innovations as much as anything else. The other interesting thing about using music as a stimulus for discussion is that it forced the students to move beyond how we innovate to discuss what is innovative. It also required students to move beyond the usual discussion of innovation of being the preserve of technology and discuss it more at a conceptual level.

At the end of the activity I then created a Spotify playlist which I used throughout the semester in class. It never failed to remind the students of the key themes we discussed in the first class or to get them talking again – even if it was just to discuss the relative merits of 1980s power ballads 🙂

You can listen to the playlist here and judge the selections for yourself. Innovative or not? What piece of music or artist would you say is innovative and why?

Operationalising complexity for leading

Image attribution: #barpreplife: One Point

In my last blog post, I noted that, if we take a complex systems view of leading, then much of what we currently offer for leadership development may be obsolete. I closed that post with some questions:

  • Are you developing your leaders for working in complex adaptive organisations or training them the same way you always have with a change in terminology and expecting different results?
  • How are you helping your leaders to get out of the way?

This post builds on the previous one by proposing answers to these questions.

The slippery nature of adopting complexity approaches for leadership was brought home powerfully to me a few weeks ago by a student in my Leading Learning class. This student kept asking me again and again “But what do we DO with all of this?”. I can’t blame him. He has spent his career working in large corporations and was frustrated at the lack of concrete answers he was getting. He wanted to know exactly which skills his leaders needed and how to deliver the training. I can appreciate his perspective and he’s not the first student to ask me to operationalise these concepts. For most of my career that’s how I’ve approached leadership development programs too. A set of skills or “leadership behaviours” that we train. We might use some innovative teaching and learning methods to be sure, but it’s still a behavioural approach to leadership development.

Adopting a complexity approach asks us to move away from behavioural approaches as a set of static leadership behaviours is insufficient to deal with the flux and change of the contemporary workplace. But what do we do if we don’t train leaders how to be leaders?

After much reflection and reading on the topic, my answer is this – leaders don’t need skills. They need a mindset shift accompanied by theoretical and analytical tools. What if complexity was not adopted merely as part of a “traditional” leadership program but was a instead taught to leaders as a set of theoretical and analytical tools which they could use to gather data about their context and make more effective decisions.

In my (as yet) imaginary program, leaders would be encouraged to read and reflect. They would be challenged with discussions about the nature of their work and how a leader is just a part of a far larger system. The leaders would be encouraged to see themselves as part of something bigger and their traditional western notions of the “leader as saviour” would be challenged. In short, they would be given tools to look at their own practice and situate it more broadly within a system. Leaders would learn as opposed to be trained. The “leader” would be decentralised from their rarified spot at the centre of the process and discussions of “leadership” as something static that can be learned would be sidelined in favour of reflection on leader’s day-to-day practices and those of the people whom they “lead”. Taking a complexity approach requires that leading is a continuous process which adapts to emergence and operates within multiple highly networked and overlapping contexts. Leaders need a mindset shift to see themselves as part of multiple systems, contexts, and relationships rather than as responsible for planning and controlling from on high. Leaders need to be shown how to get out of the way and encouraged to think of themselves as part of the action rather than overseeing it.

Leading complexity


Image attribution:

Over the past few weeks I’ve been fortunate to have discussions with passionate people across a few different organisations who are working to re-conceptualise leadership. These people have recognised, as many of us have, that the standard paradigms for many things – leadership being one of them – are no longer suitable or sufficient for understanding the world of flux and change we now inhabit. I spoke to people from quite disparate organisations but they all faced similar challenges where their leaders increasingly operate in complex, interconnected contexts and need new skills and knowledge to be successful. The organisations were increasingly frustrated at their traditional approaches to leadership as not being flexible enough and they were interested in the ideas that complexity approaches can offer in the leadership space. That’s how I came along. Since complexity is my thing, I was asked to think about how we might re-design their strategy and approaches to learning for leaders which are based on complexity approaches.

I hear this from a lot of organisations I work with – the 21st century is complex and we therefore need to look adopt complexity approaches. I think this is true but it is important to unpack what we mean by complexity as it can often confuse as both an adjective (“Our organisation is very complex”) and as a suite of theoretical and analytical tools and approaches (such as complex systems, complex adaptive systems, chaos theory, systems theory, complex adaptive organisations). Here I’ll briefly unpack what I mean by complexity approaches and then go on to discuss how they apply to leadership.

What is complexity?

Complexity, as a term, refers to a very broad church as there are a range of theories and approaches that fall under the banner of “complexity”. It includes areas such as complex systems, complex adaptive systems, cybernetics, chaos theory, and systems theory. There are lots of branches in the complexity family tree but the one that I tend to deal with in my work is a specific type of system called a complex adaptive system. 

A key assumption of complexity approaches is that complex systems adapt. Both the agents and the system change their behaviours to increase their chances of success or survival, usually through learning or adaptation. When a complex system contains agents that seek to adapt, these are called complex adaptive systems. Complex adaptive systems contain agents that respond to external and internal inputs by adapting, forming and changing their strategies for working within systems. From this perspective, it is assumed that these systems learn. In my research work, I’ve developed a framework to better apply the concept of complex adaptive systems in organisations which I term complex adaptive organisations (Lizier, 2017). The framework I developed proposes that there are four key elements of complex adaptive organisations: emergence, adaptation, complex social networks, and agency.

What does that mean for leadership?

If we assume that organisations are complex adaptive organisations, that has interesting implications for leadership. Chief among the questions is: in a complex adaptive organisation why do we need leaders? Why bother leading? In a context which is shifting and changing, where people work through networks dealing with what emerges through the interactions of the system and the people how can one possibly lead? The short answer is…you can’t.

Before you get worked up about the need for strong leadership development in organisations and how wonderful your leadership development programs are, let me explain. Complex adaptive systems are subject not only to emergence but to a phenomenon called self-organisation. This means that the people tend to self-organise towards goals. These might not necessarily be organisational goals, but the tendency is for the system to self-organise overall. In that case, traditional leadership approaches are definitely not the way to go, something that I think most learning practitioners would perhaps admit. We’ve all seen how our traditional, behavioural and situational, approaches to leadership are no longer flexible enough for contemporary organisational contexts (if indeed they ever were). To use complexity as a meaningful approach to leadership requires a significant paradigm shift away from traditional approaches to leadership which take a behavioural approach, towards something different. To date, most leadership training has been behavioural or situational in focus where we look at leaders who were successful and then we train everybody with the same behaviours.

I don’t necessarily have all of  the answers yet but I think that the questions raised are critical for organisations, leaders, and learning practitioners. For many years leadership development has been our bread and butter but…what if we’re…wrong? What if we’ve been doing same-old, same-old for so long that we haven’t really, truly, hand on heart, tried to shake it all up a bit? Are you developing your leaders for working in complex adaptive organisations or training them the same way you always have with a change in terminology and expecting different results? How are you helping your leaders to get out of the way?

An Astronaut’s guide to learning

Space Oddity

Photo sourced from

Over the summer I’ve (finally) been catching up on some reading and stumbled across a gem called An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Colonel Chris Hadfield. Col. Hadfield was an astronaut for over twenty years and commanded the International Space Station. His book details his journey to becoming an astronaut, something he wanted since he saw the first moon landing as a child, as well as lessons he learned along the way.

So what has this got to do with learning? One of the things I found most interesting about the book was how much of an astronaut’s time is spent learning and training – in fact, the vast majority of their time. In a twenty year career, Col. Hadfield went into space just three times. The rest of the time was spent training to be in space, troubleshooting for other astronauts, helping work through technical problems being experienced in orbit, and developing new tools and procedures to be used in the future to make space travel safer and more efficient. Most days, he notes, they train and take classes as well as sit many exams for which they often study on the weekends. On top of all of that, a key part of their service is having ground jobs supporting other astronaut’s missions which are also crucial for developing their own skills.

There are three key lessons I’d like to focus on from the book in this post. First is the role of reflection in astronaut training. Second is how how NASA created and facilitated a rich learning culture for their staff. Third is how Col. Hadfield went about planning the learning he needed throughout his career which often involved planning ahead many steps into an uncertain future.


An absolutely key part of learning for astronauts was reflection-in-action as they undertook tasks as well as reflection-on-action after completing a task, mission, or simulation. Often this took the form of detailed debriefing sessions with all of the key stakeholders. These open and frank conversations and reflections were, Hadfield notes, at times painful but always important and helpful. He describes them as being key to operational and organisational success. My last blog post discussed the importance of reflection and I don’t think that it’s importance, particularly in contexts of uncertainty and “fluid work” (Lizier, 2017) can be overstated. The ability to reflect on our day-to-day work is key to learning through work but how can organisations encourage and reward reflection?

NASA as a “learning organisation”

The concept of the learning organisation (Senge, 1990) has been a popular one over nearly thirty years but not without criticisms (e.g. Fenwick, 2001; Caldwell, 2005). I have mixed opinions about learning organisations but, reading Chris Hadfield’s descriptions of NASA, I immediately thought of the learning organisation concept. In particular, the type of environment and culture that NASA created which supported and facilitated learning. First was a general expectation that everyone was learning all of the time. In addition, “everyone at NASA is a critic” as Chris Hadfield says. This is important to extract maximum learning opportunities from every situation. One quote from the book (p. 79) particularly stuck with me:

“At NASA, we’re not just expected to respond positively to criticism, but to go one step further and draw attention to our own missteps and miscalculations. It’s not easy for hyper-competitive people to talk openly about screw-ups that make them look foolish or incompetent. Management has to create a climate where owning up to mistakes is permissible and colleagues have to agree, collectively, to cut each other some slack.”

The last sentence in particular made me think. It made me think of working in organisations were they talked a good game about learning and encouraging innovation, experimentation, and risk taking but, ultimately, it was all just talk. People didn’t feel safe to make those criticisms or have open and honest conversations. At NASA their lives may depend on it and so it is OK to be learner at NASA, something that researchers (Boud & Solomon, 2003) have found is challenging for many people and organisations. There are key questions here for managers and learning practitioners: how are you supporting risk taking, experimentation, and innovation? Is it truly encouraged or are you just paying lip-service? What processes do you have in place to really, critically, debrief projects and tasks?

Career planning

The final point I want to discuss in this post is how Col. Hadfield prepared for his career by looking ahead and thinking about what skills might be needed in the future. As he notes, the requirements for astronauts change over time making skills obsolete. For example, the Space Shuttle program required skilled pilots who could fly the most complicated ship on earth for short periods of time whereas now astronauts and cosmonauts fly in a largely automated vehicle called a Soyuz. Col. Hadfield was particularly skilled at looking at what was happening and reacting to trends that he could see shaping the future.

That didn’t mean that he’d be right. He could be training for something that he would never have to do but it would mean that he’d be ready to take up opportunities as they arose. He emphasises this point, that, to take opportunities, you need to be prepared all of the time. An example of this is that he speaks fluent Russian and has been learning it for around 15-20 years. When he started learning Russian there was no formal announcement that space launches would move to Russia but he could see some key trends and wanted to be prepared. Turns out he was right and he was then ready to take opportunities to work at the charmingly named Star City (no relation to our not so charming edifice in Sydney) near Moscow.

Since this is the time of year when people are starting to think about (heaven help us) Development Plans for the coming year, this is a point worth making. We often ask people to think about their next role or where they want to be in five years but in current contexts of flux and change is that really going to work anymore? Perhaps it’s better to look around at key trends in your field and think ahead to the sorts of skills that would be broadly useful in the future rather than focusing on one or two specific roles which may not exist by the time you get there. For example, for learning practitioners, e-learning and augmented reality are becoming more influential along with STEM skills more generally. I’m planning on starting to learn some basic coding this year to fill that gap in my knowledge. I don’t think I’ll ever be a coder but at least I will have an awareness of what it entails and the key steps involved. I’ve also recently finished an online course about designing e-learning.

So, learning like an astronaut. I highly recommend the book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth as both an interesting read and a chance for learning geeks to really geek-out by reading about a true lifelong learner. It speaks to current key areas of lifelong learning and learning throughout one’s career as well as learning through work. You may also want to check out this video which made Col. Hadfield famous 🙂



Boud, D., & Solomon, N. (2003). “I don’t think I am a learner”: Acts of naming learners at work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(7), 326-331

Caldwell, R. (2005) Leadership and Learning: A Critical Reexamination of Senge’s Learning Organization, Systemic Practice and Action Research, 18(4), 335-434

Fenwick, T. (2001) Questioning the concept of the learning organization. In Paechter, C., Preedy, M., Scott, D. & Soler, J. (Eds), Knowledge, Power, and Learning (Ch. 6, 74-88). Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd: London

Hadfield, C. (2013) An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Pan Books: London

Lizier, A.L. (2017) Investigating work and learning in complex adaptive organisations. Journal of Workplace Learning,

Senge, P (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Century Business: London

Reflections past and future


Happy new year! It’s taken until New Years Day to get back to writing after a whirlwind end of the year. Having looked at my email this morning after a short hiatus its predictably full of goal setting advice for the year ahead and breathless exhortations to sign up for online programs to organise my home, lose weight, get fit, get focused….yeah…no…pass the last of the Christmas chocolate.

This is definitely a reflective time of year with the end of one year and the promise of a fresh start for the next. It’s also perhaps the first time in a long while that, if you’re anything like me, you’ve had a chance to just sit still and create some space to reflect. Reflection is something that has long interested me, mainly because of its critical importance to learning. In a world where it is “a truth universally acknowledged” that we learn primarily through “doing”, through experiences and interacting with others. But how does one realise that rich learning? Answer – reflection. Taking some time to think about what you learned from an experience, good or bad. The importance of reflection in learning, particularly at work, is also well theorised in the literature but perhaps not practised as much as it should be in the workplace.

If you’re in a reflective mood at this time of year, have you thought about taking some time to reflect on what you learned in 2017? Often we focus on what we achieved (or didn’t) but how often do you reflect on what you learned outside of a more formal performance review at work? It’s something I’ve been thinking about as I come to the end of my PhD journey. What have I learned from the experience – about workplace and organisational learning, research, and myself? Importantly, what have I learned that I can apply in other contexts? I’ll write more about my learning from the PhD later on but these are useful questions for everyone. In general I think I’d say that in 2017 I learned how to take on feedback in a far more productive way to improve the quality of my work. I also learned, through my sewing hobby, that I can, and should, take chances on new projects that will stretch my skills rather than staying within my comfort zone. Through my sewing hobby I also reinforced to myself the importance of building physical and virtual communities to support my learning and keep me motivated to push forwards which I want to adopt more in my professional practice in 2018.

The flip-side of reflecting on what you’ve learned is to then think about what you hope to learn in the next year. This can seem a bit trite, again somewhat tainted from poor or ineffective experiences of “annual development plans” at work. It’s important to think ahead though. If you consider it, if we learn primarily from experience, what sorts of experiences would you like to have in the coming year and what are you hoping to learn from these? For me, I’m looking forward to consolidating my learning from this year and getting more experience of academic writing (a pretty specific writing genre) as well as the aforementioned building learning communities in my professional practice. I’m also planning on spending more time on my hobbies and returning to some old interests now that I have some more time in order to recover old skills and build new ones.

For those of you who manage other people, it’s also useful to think about how you can facilitate learning through experiences and then reflection to help consolidate that learning. How can you get “out of the way” and let people learn and experience new things? How can you encourage reflection as a normal part of learning and working? This doesn’t have to be detailed or about making people keep learning journals. It can be as simple as asking someone what they learned and how they can apply that to their professional practice in the future.

So, go forth and reflect! Have a wonderful 2018!



Cressey, P. and Boud, D. (2006). The emergence of productive reflection. In Boud, D.,Cressey, P. and Docherty, P. (Eds.).Productive Reflection at Work: Learning for Changing Organisations. London: Routledge, 11-26  [accessed Jun 10, 2017].

No more death by PowerPoint: A peer feedback process to replace student presentations

This blog post is a little different. I’ve written it to complement a presentation I gave at the 2017 UTS Teaching and Learning Forum where I presented about a subject that I teach in the Master of Education (Learning and Leadership) called Designing Innovative Learning. This post gives some more of the “how to” detail that I didn’t have time to include in my session at the forum. A copy of the slides can be found here.

Who has sat through several hours of presentations either as a student or as an instructor? While there’s a time and place for in-class presentations often they are not necessarily the optimal way to assess student learning or meet the learning goals. When running Designing Innovative Learning for the first time I was faced with this choice. Continue with the planned 10 minute individual student presentations which would use up over half of the final block (all day) class or go back to first principles and think about what type of activity would better suit the learning goals for the subject and the students? I chose the latter and changed the activity from presentations to small peer feedback groups.

Here’s how it works.

  1. As part of their final assessment for the subject, students design a learning initiative for an issue they have identified in their work context. There are two parts to this assessment. The first is the compulsory but ungraded peer feedback activity. The second is a report which students submit a few weeks later once they have their feedback.
  2. In class, all students are assigned to groups of three or four (depending on numbers in the class).  These groups use a template based on the Ladder of Feedback to provide feedback on each other’s learning initiatives which they are designing for their final assessment for the subject. Students are assigned to groups intentionally based on an earlier assessment where they outline the learning issue that they have identified. This ensures that students in the small groups are all working on similar projects which helps in terms of providing useful feedback and not needing to explain context to the others in as much detail.
  3. Each student has 20 – 30 minutes (depending on group numbers) to present an overview of their learning initiative.  It is up to students what they present.  Some students present an overview of their whole design or some just select parts where they want feedback – the choice is theirs based on what would be of greatest value to their learning and professional practice. The only limitation is that students only have 20 minutes. The remaining students in the group who are not presenting make notes during each presentation/discussion using the Ladder of Feedback template.
  4. Following the presentation, there will be 10-20 minutes for other group members to ask questions and give feedback.  The feedback sessions are timed and the instructor monitors when the time is up for each person and the group needs to move on to talking about the next person’s learning initiative.
  5. After all group members have had the chance to present and receive feedback, we spend some time as a class consolidating the feedback students received, discussing any questions that have been raised, and talking about how to incorporate the feedback into their final reports (which are graded).

Students who cannot attend class are still assigned to a group for feedback and they then prepare a short video or audio recording which is uploaded to a discussion board on our learning management system. Their peers then leave feedback in the comments of the discussion thread using the same Ladder of Feedback approach.

The benefits that I’ve observed from making this change include:

  • It made the activity a lower stakes part of assessment but still authentic in terms of how learning initiatives tend to be designed in the “real world” as negotiated collaborations
  • Students love being able to talk to peers in detail about their learning initiatives and work contexts – this provides a great opportunity for social learning and networking opportunities for students
  • Reduction in time from around 4.5 hours to 2 hours, freeing up block time for other activities and discussions to further the learning goals and finish the subject with more of a bang than a presentation whimper
  • Takes pressure off students who are not confident presenters or for whom English is a second (or third) language. Also means less preparation time for students who no longer need to prepare a full presentation if they don’t want to
  • Better quality and more detailed feedback for students to improve learning and assessment performance than they might expect following a more formal presentation
  • The opportunity for students to talk about their initiative and critically reflect on what they were planning. Often students comment that just talking about it out loud helped them process what they wanted to do and they have then changed their whole approach

Key take home messages:

  • Go back to first principles when designing or re-designing an activity or assessment

What are you trying to achieve?

How does the activity or assessment further the learning goals?

  • Simple is often very effective. Learning doesn’t always need to be high tech and you need to select the best tool for the job (see my last post for more about that)
  • Provide guidance and structure for students, don’t leave success to chance. I intentionally assign students to groups based on their projects as well as provide structure in terms of instructions and templates for feedback. This ensures that students can get on with productive discussions without worrying about what they are supposed to be doing.