LIBR 204 - Analysis of Group Process - Kelly M. Gordon

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For instance, I was the facilitator for the SWOT analysis.The pattern set up during the development of our SWOT analysis continued throughout the

    Kelly Gordon


    Analysis of Group Process

     During the Strategic Planning for Change group project, I worked in Group E with Student A, Student B, and Student C. We produced an analysis of the Santa Clara

    County Law Librarys North County Branch, developed strategic directions for the

    library based on this analysis, and then developed an action plan by which we could

    accomplish the objective of upgrading the computer equipment at the facility. I think

    one positive outcome of our group process was that we did produce an action plan that at

    least covered some of the necessary steps towards making this upgrade possible, though

    as I will describe shortly I feel that our group process as a whole was broken to the point

    that the quality of our product was impaired.

    Our initial interactions concerned mutual evaluations of our Organization

    Analysis papers in order to select an appropriate information organization upon which to

    focus our project. During these initial stages all members of the group exhibited

    behaviors associated with the forming process: we were careful to compliment each other on our papers and team members opinions on which organization to adopt were expressed very tentatively: thus, most of our interchanges on this topic were rather

    superficial. During this time we also discussed the mechanics of how we would

    approach the project. I am working on a team project in another class right now that I

    think is going rather well, so I suggested an approach based upon the process weve

    developed in that class. Each member of the team would contribute to each stage of the

    project, and a facilitator would be designated for each of the stages, in charge of pulling

    together the other members contributions and creating a document for the team to jointly

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 1 11/7/2006

edit, then making final changes and submitting the document. By making this

    suggestion, I was acting as an initiator, getting a discussion of team process rolling by

    offering specific suggestions by which our tasks could be accomplished.

    I think this early stage is where we made our first mistake as a team. When I

    suggested this dynamic, I had in mind that each person would have an actual writing task

    for each stage, and thus have partial ownership of each of our products, although I can

    see now that I didnt express this clearly enough. Each team member would produce

    their section according to a mutually established timeline, and other team members would

    comment on what they produced. The facilitators role would merely be to bring these

    pieces together and edit them for flow and consistency, then submit the document for the

    teams final approval. However, the other members of the team misunderstood me to

    mean that the facilitator would be in charge of writing the entire document for that

    weeks stage, with other team members contributing to the brainstorming process only,

    and then editing the final document that the facilitator produced. B, since she works at

    the organization which we chose, was designated as our research person and thus did not

    act as facilitator for any of the stages. I felt at the time that this overall approach would

    not work as well as what I had initially had in mind, but since other members of the

    group seemed to support the idea, and since we were still in our forming stages, I was

    hesitant to offer clarification.

    Consequently, although I think we had really strong, hardworking, and invested

    individuals on our team and each member of the group contributed substantially to the

    brainstorming process each week, a true teamwork process was never really achieved. I

    didnt find the group process individually satisfying, and I dont think the other members

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 2 11/7/2006

of the team did either, because responsibility for each product rested too heavily on one

    persons shoulders. For instance, I was the facilitator for the SWOT analysis. Everyone contributed to a brainstorming discussion of what they saw as the strengths,

    weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, with B contributing a great deal of her inside

    knowledge of the organization. But I felt like we never really delved as deeply as we

    should have into the issues we were exploring, and when I started writing the SWOT

    analysis I felt like I was working on an individual project that I happened to have

    discussed with classmates, rather than participating in a true team project: I wrote the

    paper alone, and when I submitted the paper for feedback I got good suggestions for

    stylistic and grammatical revisions, but little real input regarding the content of the

    analysis or the approach I took. When B, A, and C edited the SWOT analysis draft I

    produced, they were probably hesitant to offer suggestions that would involve a

    substantial rewrite for me, and I know that I felt the same as I reviewed As Strategic

    Directions draft (Cs Action Plan draft fared differently, as I will describe later in this

    account). Thus we established a group process that only facilitated team participation in

    the initial, brainstorming phases of each stage. If we had divided up writing tasks

    within each of the stages, I think we would have been less hesitant to offer each other

    more substantial advice, since we would have all worked on each stage together and each

    weeks task for each individual would have been smaller.

    The pattern set up during the development of our SWOT analysis continued throughout the process, with minor variations here and there. We generally arrived at

    decisions such as settling on team process, the identification of strategic directions, etc.,

    through consensus, though there were certainly exceptions to this along the way. None

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 3 11/7/2006

of our team members took on any particularly strong maintenance roles, which is

    unfortunate because in particular I think we could have used a good standard-setter;

    someone who would speak up and initiate group discussion when it became apparent

    (after your feedback from the SWOT analysis) that our current approach wasnt enabling

    us to produce effective results.

     Individual team members did take on decision making and task oriented roles. C was particularly effective in establishing a direction for the teams brainstorming during

    the early parts of each stage, by eliciting ideas for the identification of strategic

    directions, objectives, goals, and action plans: he frequently acted as an initiator by

    getting the ball rolling for discussions. I would say that he generally employed the

    take-charge method of decision making, particularly during the action plan stage, for

    which he had primary responsibility. During this phase his take-charge approach may

    have alienated B and A: as we were discussing which of our strategic directions to

    focus on for our action plan, B and A each voted for either the first or the second strategic

    direction, and I voted for the second or third strategic direction. The majority favored

    the second strategic direction, but I think C strongly preferred the third strategic

    direction, cited my support of it (I had indicated that I would be willing to develop a

    budget for the technological upgrade) and chose to pursue that. A and B acquiesced, but

    I think they would have been far more comfortable with pursuing our second strategic

    direction, that of increasing public awareness of the North County Branch. In this

    particular instance, I think C fell a bit into the role of dominator, by placing his

    preference above that of the majority.

     A and I took on similar roles in the group process. We tended to check in Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 4 11/7/2006

with other team members in consensus-seeking type activities, although as I will explain

    below A deviated significantly from the consensus-seeking role towards the end of the

    project. We both tended towards being Friendly helper types, offering assistance to

    team-mates and in general avoiding conflict. We were also similar in that we both took

    on information seeking roles: both in asking questions of B to elicit more information

    about the organization (C also took on a large information seeking role), and in doing

    outside research to investigate options for funding sources, examine other organizations

    action plans, etc.

    B tended to express her views in a very direct fashion and then stand back and see

    how they were received. It was my perception that she didnt really engage in many

    decision-making roles, though she contributed substantially and insightfully to the

    brainstorming process and was a pleasant and productive team-mate. She acted very

    much as an information giver, which is not unexpected given the fact that she works for

    the organization we had chosen for our analysis. She also acted as an information

    seeker, not so much in asking questions of the group, but in conducting outside research,

    particularly about the specific fund-raising objectives we chose to pursue.

    I think we had a good mix of approaches, but we only employed these roles

    during the brainstorming process: once the brainstorming was done, the writing of the

    actual product at each of the three stages became very much an individual effort, as

    described above, and the rest of our team interaction was fairly shallow. Because of the

    individualization of our team process, I felt that our team was less effective than it

    could have been, and as a result the products we created lacked the depth and insight that

    a true collaboration could have produced. There are definite advantages to having

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 5 11/7/2006

several bright minds working together on a project: ideally, each persons perceptions

    add to the whole, and an additional interactive synergy between team members

    exchanging ideas adds more quality to the teams product than can be accounted for by

    the sum of its parts. But because of the process we developed, we were only able to

    harness those advantages associated with the initial, brainstorming phase of each of the

    projects stages.

    The fact that we were communicating only via email and the discussion board didnt help to deepen this process- I think a lot of ideas are developed through the dynamism of conversation, which enables ideas to bounce around and get taken up by

    individuals, enhanced, evaluated, or dismissed, with much more facility than exchanges

    via the written word. Conversation involves cooperation and give and take and can be a

    team-building exercise in and of itself, whereas email exchanges frequently take the form

    of monologues that less effectively build upon and enhance ideas expressed previously.

    The quality of the Action Plan we submitted, as well as the peaceable relations of our already struggling team, was marred by a conflict in the final stages of the project.

    C was to be the facilitator for the Action Plan, and again after an extensive brainstorming

    session in which all members of the team contributed to generating ideas and research

    pertinent to the Action Plan, C prepared a draft and submitted it to the group for review.

    The timing of the preparation of the draft was unfortunate, as C finished the draft shortly

    before your feedback regarding our Strategic Directions paper, and your specific

    instructions regarding the Action Plan became available. In particular, the feedback you

    offered on the Strategic Directions paper had a demoralizing effect, and I think each of

    the team members felt that all of our efforts so far had been inadequate. I think we were

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 6 11/7/2006

also confused as to how we could improve our performance at this late stage, only four

    days before the final product was due. This atmosphere of low morale and confusion set

    the stage for a conflict, based upon misunderstanding, bad timing, and poor

    communication, that occurred between A and C.

    On Friday, when C submitted his draft for our review, he asked A to take on the

    revision, finalization, and submission of the Action Plan, because she had offered him her

    help earlier in the week with whatever he needed done. A agreed to this, though she

    expressed some frustration that the request hadnt been made earlier, since she was out of

    town for the weekend. When this exchange took place, I dont think A or C realized

    how much revision to his draft would be necessary, but as we read your comments it

    became clear that major changes needed to be made to his draft. We all chimed in with

    our reactions to your comments and the further instructions you had provided, and what

    we thought needed to be done, but from comments made on the groups discussion board

    and in emails I think we were also feeling a fair degree of hopelessness and frustration at

    that point- I know that I certainly was. However, for the first time in our group process

    we were suggesting substantial rather than superficial revisions to the content of the

    paper, and I think everyone made really good and perceptive points about how the Action

    Plan could be improved.

    Unfortunately, this valuable feedback was somewhat wasted by the conflict that

    ensued. A, instead of using what C had written (which was a good starting point even

    though it still needed a lot of revision), basically started over from scratch. She posted

    the beginning part of what she had worked on at some point over the weekend, and it was

    clear that she was not going to use what C had written. I think C was frustrated to see

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 7 11/7/2006

that all his hard work was going to be wasted. C resented A for discarding his work; A

    resented C for dropping what turned out to be a very substantial rewrite in her lap when

    the responsibility for this phase of the project was supposed to be his. C, after making

    what seemed to me to be a rather sarcastic comment to A via email, basically dropped out

    of the process. B didnt have much to say either after A posted the beginning phases of

    her rewrite, though she contributed thoughtful suggestions initially in response to your

    comments on our Strategic Directions paper.

    In my communications with A I offered to help with the revision and with

    gathering any additional needed information, since I felt badly that A had suddenly been

    landed with such a substantial task that should have been shared by the entire team. A

    sent her completed rewrite to me via email asking for input on certain sections. I

    communicated with A to offer my additions to Objectives 2 and 3, regarding the

    technology upgrade, and to partially expand Objective 4, regarding the monitoring

    process, which I felt was extremely hastily written. At this point, (Monday night) I

    thought A was going to post her draft, which neither B nor C had seen in its completed

    form and which still needed revision, to the team for further comments. However, A may have been too fed up to continue the revision process, because instead she chose to

    submit the paper for grading a full day early, without giving C or B the opportunity to

    review the paper.

    Its hard to blame A for feeling resentful that C basically co-opted her into finishing the paper, although she could have spoken up and said she needed more help

    instead of making a difficult task harder by choosing to rewrite the entire thing. Its

    hard to blame C for being frustrated and dropping out of the process when he saw his

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 8 11/7/2006

work being discarded, although I think it would have been appropriate for him to step

    back in and offer to help with the revisions once it became apparent how substantial they

    would be. I think both B and myself could have worked more effectively to mediate

    between the two once we saw the conflict emerging, and perhaps we would have if it had

    not been so close to the end of the project. As it turns out, the project ended badly, with

    hurt feelings, and I am not satisfied with either the process we employed over the course

    of the project or with the product we generated. Because of our lack of intensive team

    collaboration, we did not approach this project with the depth and insight that we could

    have, and we didnt forge the communication skills needed in order to successfully

    weather the conflict that arose at the end of the project.

    Despite this, I did learn from this project: in particular, I learned some things

    about what I need to do to become a more productive participant within a team. I need

    to speak up more. I definitely tend towards the Friendly Helper type that you describe

    in your notes on group process. I want everyone to be happy. Consensus is important

    to me. I think I have good perceptions about how to improve team process, but am

    afraid to speak up for fear of displeasing or alienating other members of the team. Im

    afraid of appearing too bossy. I withdraw from conflict rather than attempting to help

    resolve it because I am afraid of having negative feelings directed towards me. This

    seems to be a theme with me in this course thus far- Ive explored similar tendencies in

    the threaded discussion postings and in the critical incident essay as well. However, I

    can see that I am capable of overcoming these issues. I am fairly diplomatic when I

    want to be, and I think if I tried to present my ideas more, I believe I could do it in a way

    that wouldnt be bossy or domineering. These are skills that I need to develop in order

    Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

    Group E 9 11/7/2006

to contribute more fully to future teams that I participate in.

Kelly Gordon Analysis of Group Process

Group E 10 11/7/2006

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