Management I: People and Teams
Historical Team-Experience Assessment
My experience on teams is far from extensive. Most of my professional work has been independent in nature, and I have never been a “joiner;” I generally have not been drawn to join groups or teams, as I have an aversion to what often seems a contrived or asinine purpose. However, I can draw on a few poignant experiences I’ve had in various teams to identify what has been effective and ineffective in the pursuit of a common goal. My hope is that the combination of what I’ve learned from those experiences with the specific curriculum of this course will provide me with ample tools to be an effective, agreeable, and ...view middle of the document...
We would break into groups of five or six people, map out a route, obtain our provisions, and pack and plan accordingly to complete our route and arrive at the predetermined rendezvous point after ten days on our own. As the name implies, this excursion was indeed independent; no instructors would accompany any of the groups. To raise the stakes even more, we had no radios or other communication devices. We had topographical maps, compasses, and little else besides our personal gear. The first, and perhaps most difficult, task was to assemble the separate IST teams.
Our instructors involved us in this task and allowed us to have a lot of say in how this team breakdown happened. There was a great deal of discussion as to the best way to accomplish this, but the instructors feared people forming cliques and excluding others, so they decided it would work like this: we would go around the circle and each person would describe what s/he hoped to accomplish on her/his IST. Some people wanted to stay in valleys. Others wanted to summit peaks. Still others wanted to fish and relax as much as possible, and a few others (myself included) hoped to include an element of personal and spiritual exploration in the form of a solo/fast (spending two or three days fasting in wild solitude). After everyone voiced his or her desires and goals, the instructors convened amongst themselves to set up the final teams.
As it turned out, there were six of us who voiced a desire to do a solo/fast as part of the IST, so that was the unifying and determining element of our team. We shared a common vision, the value of which was intrinsic, not relative (Senge, 138). We came together and mapped out a loop that took us down into a river valley and then up near a couple of peaks that we could choose to summit depending on weather, time and desire. And we settled on a general location that seemed ideal for us to spread out and be out of sight and earshot of one another, but not overly exposed or distanced in case of emergency. We arrived at these decisions by consensus, but it was required that each team have a designated leader; I volunteered for this role and my teammates agreed. I presented our plan to the instructors and they approved. All that was left for us to do was go into town to buy our food and embark the following morning. Buying food was really our first team task. We had a set budget, and we decided what we wanted beforehand and went to the store together to make our purchases. However, we also stipulated that if anyone wanted to buy additional food with their own money, that was OK but he would be responsible for carrying the extra provisions he purchased (it was only males on the team).
We set out the next day, equipped with the requisite skills and in excellent physical condition after over two months of strenuous wilderness travel. Our collective mood was outstanding; after all, we were doing exactly what we had hoped to do. This was the first element of...