Teamwork vs. Going-It-Alone

Posted by jlubans on February 14, 2017

Caption: Tenting for Tickets.

I’ve written before about how many organizations emphasize
teams only to reward individual performance.
We profess working together but reward star performers. I’ve done it myself.
In teaching the Democratic Workplace, all about collaboration and how group effort can be more productive than soloing, I reverted to the traditional model of final exam to test for individual’s achievement.
Then, it dawned on me, Why not a group final? As my several workplace critics would complain - to think it is to do it for me – I asked the students, on the last day of class, if they wanted to take the test in groups and to accept the group score for their exam grade. They readily agreed.
An experiment, I’ve done this now three times and see no reason to stop. Here’s a quote from my blog about the group final:
“The results – the scores - were excellent - and should serve to drive home a central class notion that group work – when everyone is prepared to do their best – can often be superior to individual effort, to going it alone. These scores (on a scale of 10) seem to confirm this: 10.0, 9.5, and 9.3.
The previous three classes used a similar exam, with much greater variation among individual scores, ranging from lows in the 6’s to high 9’s.
And, I saw that the students learned from each other in coming up with answers. There was much animated discussion during the 50 questions final. And, given the course content and class objectives, the students saw for themselves that group work can be more effective than individual – on average - if everyone is prepared to bring their best.”
So, it was interesting to read in the Wall Street Journal of something like a group final occurring in the tent city erected for the big game between two rivals, the Duke Blue Devils and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
Due to fanatic fans and limited seating for students – much more demand than supply - students have begun a self-monitoring tradition of tenting outside the arena, often for weeks, - in rain, snow and ice - to be sure to get into the big game.
Indeed, the tradition has become so entrenched; tenting has had to be limited to space available.
So, tent space is rationed by basketball trivia testing. Only those with the highest scores are allowed to put up their tents.
And, because not all seats in the student section are equal, they’ve added a second trivia quiz to determine the order in which the students enter the arena to take their seats – actually, the students never sit down - in the reserved student section.
Some groups are happy just to get in the building; others want to be as close to the sidelines as possible, as close to the action as they can get, providing a “6th Man” to the five players on the floor.
The WSJ elaborates about what sounds like a group final:
“One of the tents that did better (testing wise) had a simple plan. ‘All of us studied as much as we could possibly study,’ said Duke sophomore Rachel Sereix. When the exam began, her tent ripped apart pages to pass around and check each other’s work, and they turned in their answers at the last possible second.
Their strategy worked. They scored 86%—and Tent 5. They knew enough about Duke basketball to know in advance where they’ll be standing for the biggest game of the season: in the front row.”
So, all fun, but another example of how group effort – when shared among aspiring and committed team members can produce better results than going it alone.

Happy End Note: The Duke Blue Devils earned bragging rights over their Tobacco Road rivals inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 86-78.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

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Posted by Russ on February 14, 2017  •  11:01:15

"...if everyone is prepared to bring their best." Aye..there's the key.

Posted by jlubans on February 15, 2017  •  09:04:32

If they are not, why are they there? I have some ideas but they won't change the reality of it. I found when I was plugging away I could rely on a tiny number and they got a lot done inspire of opposition of all sorts. The highly productive nucleus, if you will,l that brings the rest of the atom along. Or something like that : ) J

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