In previous courses, I was not asked to participate in much group work, but rather everything was graded based on your individual performance. For a perfectionist, being able to work in my own style, in my own time, is an ideal environment. I have found myself using the saying “If you want something done right, you do it yourself”. However, there is no denying that teamwork is an essential skill in the workforce, and I find myself lucky to be developing these skills here. Teamwork can strengthen your quality of work because you are pulling from all the best assets of individuals, yet it can also be a stumbling block as conflicting interests pulls the team apart. A balance is required, and obtainable, but needs a certain amount of experimentation from the team to find this place.
We are at a point where the period of testing the footholds is over, and we must dig in and start making some distance on what seems like a mountain of a task. I was told this week that there are four stages of being on a team; “forming”, “storming”, “norming”, and “performing”. I feel like we are somewhere in between the storming and norming phase, and need to improve a few things before moving on. We have some good ideas and capable individuals, now all we need to do is bring all the components together. So far we have found that quick, open, and frequent communication is the best way to achieve tasks. Facebook is an easy way to rapidly communicate and discuss meeting times and objectives for the week. Google doc is another great tool to compile collective information as the project progresses.
As every group has experienced, not everything is working exactly as it should yet. We have faced some challenges in “getting the ball rolling”, and transitioning from a stage of gathering information to a stage of producing ideas. We have had issues deciding how to frame the social platform, as we are still in the process of getting feedback from Maarten. A lack of urgency as the 9 weeks draws to an end can be a pitfall for our team, as some tasks could be time sensitive. A preventative measure would be to set more definite schedule for tasks that is decided upon at our weekly meetings. Another idea Efe mentioned to me is to have quick additional “blitz meetings” where the sole purpose is to briefly touch base with each other and keep updated on current tasks.
Collaboration must transcend cultural barriers and varied backgrounds, something I think our group has done a good job in executing. Despite our different origins, we have had no major problems understanding each other and our ideas. I would attribute this to the fact that everyone speak fluent english and have worked with each other previously in the initial weeks.
Probably more prominent than cultural differences, is different personalities in the group. For example, I am personally a vocal character and urgent about time frame, while others can be more methodical, laid back, and deliberate. One of the benefits of working in a group is that once a harmony is made between all extremes, good quality and timely work is sure to follow.
What seems to be more of a challenge is the actual task we have been given, and the size of the groups we are in. This assignment has definitely caused some degree of “confusiasm” amongst our group, as we were originally not as clear about the overall goal as we are now. The difference I have seen between this course and others I have taken is that there is no one clear path to get the answer, and thus we must fabricate a solution on our own. I am used to solving problems with particular set formulas and methods, without any creativity, ultimately reaching the single correct answer. It is perhaps that we have mistaken this freedom with the feeling of being “lost”, and we must learn to take advantage of the flexibility we have been granted.
As Chris Corrigan from the video this week mentioned, teams larger than 5 can sometimes hinder the innovative process. He also pointed out that odd numbered groups tend to think more creatively, while even numbered groups achieved concrete tasks more effectively. To remedy this, our group has decided on a structure where we are broken up into two groups of three, with one leader acting as a liaison between them. The groups are divided based on our top three priorities of the project at the time: they are currently research and communication, organization and structure of the social platform, and visualization and aesthetics of drupal and the video presentation.
Our teamwork skills is still a work in progress, however I feel that after taking the time this week to reflect on how we operate,we will improve the way we interact with each other. Hopefully an increase in efficiency and a certain amount of balance will help us on our way from the “norming” phase to the “performing” stage.