When a teacher announces a group project in a classroom setting, students often groan and complain. Group projects are not students’ favorites because the work is never distributed equally throughout the group. There is always someone who takes charge and others who sit back and allow the person taking charge to do a larger share of the work for the project. Students also believe it is easier to just do the project themselves. Sometimes it can be a challenge trying to collaborate multiple people’s ideas into one project. Students often think the teacher is being mean or cruel by assigning tough group projects. In reality, the teacher is preparing their students for the real world. Most of us will find that group projects do not go away after college. In almost every workplace, collaboration between employees and clients is essential to success. There are many reasons for this including building relationships and fostering creativity.
Building strong relationships between project participants is important because it makes people feel comfortable to express their ideas to the group. If they do not feel comfortable sharing, the group might lose out on great ideas. Groups need to take time to get to know each other before starting to work on the project. According to Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, a business management expert, group members need to get to know each other to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses, build trust, and develop a common understanding and vision for the project (Goman, n.d.).
Group collaboration also helps foster creativity by allowing multiple ideas to be bounced off each other from different points of view. Sarah Maynard shared in a blog post that there are three elements of successful collaboration: communication, visualization, and acknowledgement. “Communicate by sharing ideas with your coworkers, contacts, managers, and anyone who will listen. Use visuals to help communicate your ideas and clarify your ideas at the most simplistic level” (Rubin, 2013). Everyone in the group might have their own idea, but ideas can be altered or created from previous thoughts. Members of the group might have thoughts or perceptions that others never thought about because once someone gets ahold of an idea, they tend to be stuck on just that one idea. It has been suggested by Zack Cutler, a blogger for the Huffington Post, that the best way to get the creative juices flowing between group members in the workplace is to have frequent brainstorming sessions, split the team into smaller groups, and provide materials such as white boards for an easy way to display ideas (Cutler, 2014). Once the creativity starts to flow, it will continue as ideas get bounced around.
Although collaboration or group projects have a negative connotation among students, I think that will change once we enter the working world. Employees have the risk of losing their job and income if they do not pull their weight for the project, whereas students only risk a chance of receiving a lower grade that does not mean much. People in the work world will be more interested in the project as well. I think collaboration in the workplace is a great tool to create better products and make clients happier. Someday students will realize that all the group projects their teachers assigned over the years were worth the trouble.
Cutler, Z. (2014, September 17). The Power of Team Collaboration in the Workplace. Retrieved November 23, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zach-cutler/the-power-of-team-collabo_b_5836742.html
Goman, C. (n.d.). 7 insights for collaboration in the workplace. Retrieved November 23, 2015 from http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/23929/7-insights-collaboration-workplace
Rubin, N. (2013, August 15). Workplace Collaboration: Mission-Critical or Just An Ideal? Retrieved November 23, 2015 from http://www.15five.com/blog/collaboration-in-the-workplace-mission-critical-or-simple-an-ideal/