Systems Savvy: Practical Intelligence for Transformation of Sociotechnical Systems

Terri L. Griffith, John E. Sawyer, M. Scott Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Systems savvy, a new construct derived from foundations of practical intelligence, is the capacity to see the interdependence of technological and social/organizational systems and to construct synergies between them. Understanding systems savvy is valuable for managing the changes that go along with rapidly evolving technical and social/organizational systems that are part of the group decision and negotiation landscape. We first define the construct of systems savvy and position it in recent research on practical intelligence and tacit knowledge. We differentiate it from several other individual characteristics often used in research and practice. We use a critical incident technique with 13 subject matter experts to create a situational judgment test measure of systems savvy that can be used for research or assessments to support training. Preliminary validation of the measure uses a sample of 39 successful professionals and 182 novices. Systems savvy represents a contribution to research streams focused on understanding technology with implications at the team and organizational levels of analysis. We conclude with a discussion of the limitations of the current research and offer possible next steps toward using the systems savvy construct for understanding and supporting the future of work, especially within teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGroup Decision and Negotiation
StatePublished - 2019


  • Future of work
  • Individual differences
  • Practical intelligence
  • Situational judgment task
  • Sociotechnical systems
  • Systems savvy
  • Tacit knowledge
  • Technology adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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