It’s been a long time coming, but we have finally made it to discussing the last section of The Tubbs Model of Small Group Interaction, which is consequences. When we talk about consequences, we’re looking at the “end results” of group interactions, so how the relevant background factors and internal influences of the group came together (or fell apart) and what outcome was reached for the purposes of that group. Even though, the chapter is called Consequences, it actually focuses more on how a group or team can implement changes within its structure in order to create more successful outcomes to problems that a group may be facing. Since I’ve been heavily involved in working through a team community action project recently, let’s analyze that group in relation to the changes we’ve made in order to get to where we are now.
Using the Ten Commandments of Implementing Changes, created by Todd D. Jick in 1993, we will be looking at the team that I have been participating in through the following lenses:
Analyze the organization and its need for change. For starters, the team was comprised of four people, with two pairs of people who were previously working with each other in separate groups. It had a pretty rocky start, because half of the group was unfamiliar with the other half even though they were all students in the same course. This led to issues involving not knowing how to work together, and not being completely agreed upon the initial subject we decided to work on for our project. The biggest problem came in the form that even though we decided the project we would do was a photo booth, we couldn’t figure out how to get the project started and everyone wanted to approach the project from different directions. We decided that we needed to go back to the drawing board and clear the air on what everyone wanted out of the team and project.
- Create a shared vision and common direction. After doing more brainstorming, the team came to an agreement that we would instead do a project that focused on helping the homeless in some way. We looked into organizations on the campus and discovered the CARE Center, which assists the homeless and foster care students that attended the university. We decided that we should look into talking with them about doing a textbook drive.
- Separate from the past. One of the biggest issues that we had as a team was separating from the past. As I mentioned before, the team was formed from people who worked in separate groups earlier in the semester. We had to get used to working in a new group and let go of our experiences from the previous project, because they were getting in the way of us trying to work on the current project.
Create a sense of urgency. The changes of reevaluating the team and the project we were tackling had to happen, and they had to happen fast. The sense of urgency about us making the decisions we needed to for the sake of the team was pushed greatly by the due date of the project and how fast it was approaching after we had wasted a couple of weeks getting nowhere.
- Support a strong leader role. Rather than focusing on a singular leader, we divided the work it would require to get the project done and made each person the leader of each piece, so that they had more of the say on the particular nuances of that section of the project. We still worked on each piece together, but depending on which piece we were working on, we turned to a specific person in the group to lead discussions and work.
- Line up political sponsorship. In order to make sure this project got started and had a solid base for us to start on, we immediately contacted the CARE Center and got their okay to sponsor our endeavors. We later pursued to get the university bookstore and library backing us as well for extra assistance. We even had to get the professor of the course involved when we needed quick access to university event booking.
- Craft an implementation plan. Our implementation plan for the change came in the form of simply making the change. We realized that we needed to change to succeed and in turn created a new proposal that we would follow in order to achieve our goals in the new project.
- Develop enabling structures. Most of our enabling structures that were developed were symbolic, and were in the form of rearranging the team dynamics so that we could work together without butting heads as often.
Communicate, involve people, and be honest. Since this was a community action project, we couldn’t even begin to proceed without communicating and involving other people in our pursuit of creating a textbook drive. We also, of course, had to be honest and make sure people understood exactly what it is we were trying to do so that we could get the sponsorship and assistance that we needed for the team.
- Reinforce and institutionalize change. We reinforced the changes we did to the team by making sure to actually follow through with the ideas and roles that we set forth once we had went back and decided the change needed to happen. It was quickly accepted because everyone was happier with the way things were going once we restarted the new team and had shared goals in mind.
Even though, we are still in the process of completing the project, our team has been working together very well now after we had gone through and realized that changes needed to happen. This can happen to any team or organization, so never think that change is an unnecessary tool to resolving and bettering a problem. In order to succeed in having positive consequences, you sometimes have to seek the change that can help create the best outcome possible.