The experience of this week’s Engagement Exercise made clear to me one idea that I am posting here as the hypothesis: Time and the need for joint efforts are absolutely necessary for the collective of individuals to become a group. Several people put together formally will never become a group, not to mention a team. Two factors are absolutely necessary: time and joint work. Time allows people to get accustomed to each other, understand the processes more clearly, and define their own roles within the group.
During our first experience of joint work, I felt a bit uncomfortable because of a slight degree of uncertainty concerning who does what, how it all is organized, and what my role in this process should be. This time, the experience was more successful as we all had had a prior experience of working in small groups on a similar task. The team was different now, and I am curious if it influenced the effectiveness and if the result could be better in case we worked in the same team. We had time to reflect on our prior experience, draw conclusions, and re-establish our own roles. In short, time is tantamount to experience in this case.
The need for joint efforts was also a powerful consolidating factor. Each of us understood that our individual success depends on our work now, on how effectively we can work together. None of us could do the task alone for it could not be graded then, so we were compelled by the circumstances to combine our efforts. Thus, each of us was interested in effective team work. Under such circumstances, we began to think of our group as “we” and not “I” versus “them”. And, as Johnson and Johnson (2009) note, “the one-word test to detect whether someone is on the road to becoming a leader is we” (p. 202).
As a result, I found my role to be more active and I am more satisfied with this exercise than with the previous one. I participated in the work process actively as well as the others. I find this exercise to be very important in terms of learning to be a participant-observer. The previous exercise provided us with the material for observation; the discussion provided opportunities for giving and receiving feedback; we could reflect upon this experience and see what could be improved. So, this time we all tried to modify our behavior. I am sure that the further exercises will bring even more understanding and experience.