1. How clear was the intent of the discussion?
The discussion this week by the team was great. We had a very clearly defined outline to follow which helped to organize our discussion topics amongst one another. As such, I felt that we were able to better express our thoughts to the specific subject at hand without leaving to question which point the poster may have been referring to.
2. How prepared were your group members for the discussion?
The team appeared to be very prepared. The discussion began early in the week and has continued on through day six. It has been added to each and every day. Furthermore, the knowledge of the subject matter is clearly identifiable within the content of the discussion.
3. Did everyone participate equally in the discussion?
Everyone participated well within the discussions. Yes, there were a few who participated more than others, but I felt that everyone was able to have enough input for it be substantial.
4. Were group members open to different points of view?
I believe that they were open to varied points of view. We did not always agree 100% on each line item. But, we all supported our views and were able to continue with the discussion without being distracted by a varied point of view.
5. How would you describe the overall climate of the discussion?
I would describe the climate of the discussion as being collaborative, constructive and positive. It really felt good to see that everyone was putting in valid thought to their contributions. I do not see that anyone is simply going through the motions and trying to skate by without learning the subject matter.
6. Did you feel your group was productive in the discussion? Did you use the time efficiently?
I do feel that the group was very productive within the discussions. The way in which the discussions were organized I believe helped to foster this atmosphere. Thus, the time that was spent by the team to provide input, make the posts and ready the team for the assignment was done so effectively.
7. What strategies can you use in future discussions to increase productivity and outcomes?
I suppose that we could have put progressive time expectations for each of the discussion points. In other words, they could have been assigned chronologically so that the banter amongst each other could have been even more timely than it was already.
8. What approach will you take next time to increase group cohesion?
The only thing that I can see that could be done better for the group cohesion would be to either better utilize our communication resources like conference calls, phone calls or group emails outside of the classroom posting function.
Video Analysis – “Planning A Playground”
1. What are the issues in this meeting?
The issue that was presented before this board was the project of funding and coordinating the construction of a neighborhood playground. Beyond the specific task for the playground planning, it was also clear that the team had a small level of challenge in getting to know one another. Within this group were some veteran board members as well as some joining the group for the first time. Throughout their interactions, it was clear that the members of this team were seeking to have an effective relationship with one another. They were all very cordial and professional with each other.
2. What did they do well as a group?
The team did well to overcome the obstacle of not knowing each other very well. As the meeting commenced they spent some time for introductions. This appeared to make the individuals of the group more comfortable with each other. They had individual ideas and had obviously given the task at hand some previous thought. Ultimately, even though these team members had only been together for a very short period of time, They all seemed to be on the same page, even when one member of the group had a differing opinion. The leader of the group helped the group to bring together the different ideas of each member.
3. Can you identify constructive or deconstructive conflict occurring in this group? What are some key indicators? What conflict styles do you see?
This video appeared to demonstrate much more in constructive conflict rather than deconstructive conflict. “Constructive Conflict refers to conflict in which the benefits exceed the costs; it generates productive, mutually beneficial, shared decisions. In constructive conflicts, the process becomes as important as the end result. Individuals come together to redefine or strengthen their relationship for the greater good of the parties involved” (Meehan, 2014). The clearest example would be when one member wanted to do a bake sale in order to raise $35,000. The other members clearly were not on board, but one indicator that the conflict was constructive was that they gave alternate solutions. Although it was not brazen, there could also be more deconstructive conflict than may be apparent.
Although not going to the level of personal attacks, there were very few questions being asked to gain clarification of ideas or thoughts by the other team members. This approach, similar to being passive aggressive, could actually skirt direct confrontation but be the basis of conflict that is more destructive than constructive. This would be due to the avoided preventing a effective solution to the assigned task.
4. Based on what you learned this week, how might you handle this situation differently?
Understanding that these team members were meeting one another for the first time in this setting, the initial piece of introductions would be a good way to approach this. As was discussed, this team conducted this portion of the meeting well. It could have been more beneficial for the team to have a more clear set of guidelines or agenda to be following. By taking this approach, it would be very easy to have a brainstorming period of time so that nobody would feel that their suggestions may not be given the appropriate merit. It can also help to keep a newly formed team on track without veering off course of the desired target issue. A great way to support the setting of an agenda would be introduce more visual aids to the meeting.
Video Analysis – “The Politics of Sociology”
1. What are the issues in this meeting?
The task assigned to the team was to address the issue of declining student enrollment at the university. In order to do this, one of the suggestions was to identify whether or not the Sociology course was viable within the immediate landscape of the course selections. The conflict that arose from this discussion is the other issue that is in front of the team; the interpersonal conflict that exists between the team members
2. What did they do well as a group?
This team was able to clearly communicate the basis of their suggestions and opinions. Additionally, the team members appeared to be qualified subject matter experts within their scope of authority. Because of this experience, the team members were also able to effectively raise valid questions with regards to the discussion at hand. They all appeared to have relative value to add within the discussion.
3. What types of conflict do you see in this video? Provide examples.
The interpersonal conflict here was easy to see within the off-handed comments throughout the discussion. It is difficult to say whether or not this is a conflict specifically between the individuals or if this is set deeper within a conflict that exists between the departments that these people each represent. If this is the case, the conflict would be more of an intergroup conflict than interpersonal. A couple of examples of this tension that existed were times that the woman said “oh here we go, oh here we go” when the gentleman was trying to express his feelings. Another one is that Steve had to jump in a few times and say “lets step back and put feelings aside and look at the bigger picture”
4. There is a clear leader in this video. What can he do to be a better leader for this group?
Yes, there is a clear leader within this group. It was a clear consensus that Steve would have been better off to establish clear guidelines for the interaction within the discussion in order to keep the off-handed comments to a minimum while continuing to have the dialog move towards an agreed upon solution for the issue at hand. Although it is healthy to have an organic discussion, it must also continue to be productive. Steve could have maintained the control of the discussion himself while asking specific questions to specific people to gain their perspectives of the topic at hand. Additionally, Steve could have addressed the elephant in the room; the fact that there will likely be competing interests for the topics that were to have been discussed. By openly acknowledging this fact, he would be establishing his authority within the situation without having to pick a winner or loser amongst the members of the group.
5. Based on what you learned this week, how might you handle this team situation differently?
As the leader of this group, by taking a proactive approach in clearly defining the objectives of the discussion would be the first step. Then, once the meeting commenced, openly acknowledging the potential barriers that may exist, such as the intergroup conflict that is in place within the organization here, would help to clear the air on just how the demeanor of the meeting is expected to play out. Beyond everything else, the destructive conflict must be minimized en lieu of more constructive conflict.
Meehan, C. (2014). Difference Between Destructive & Constructive Conflict. Houston Chronicle; Small Business Groups. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/differences-between-destructive-constructive-conflict-1202.html