A BUSINESS ANSWER TO RICHARD HACKMAN
Profound and intuitive collective faculties can lead to great accomplishments. Great feats of man have all included the collaboration of team or group efforts. Significantly it is recorded in the bible of a tower of babel where all men spoke one common language and because of their ability to corroborate one with the other they built a great tower towards heaven. However, God saw that this greatness however great it may be could lead to astronomical amounts of destruction and confounded man’s ability to understand each other on a collective playing field. It is in this way we consider Richard Hackman’s statement “using a team to complete a complex project may not be the best approach” (Guffey, 2018). If a business project represents the tower of babel, then Hackman’s mindset may be likened to that of God; though good came from it what destructions lies in wake? The infallibility of the cooperative team effort may or may not be the best approach based on situation. The idea then is to demonstrate the effectiveness of teamwork on projects, their strengths and possible weaknesses, best approach to starting a major business project and when to use consensus or majority rule in delegation.
Knowledge is considered a form of power, though not physical in nature, the ability to accrue a vast capsule of knowledge can move the cognitive wheels of progress in the right direction. In the same progressive format, a team of workers each assigned to their own cog on the wheel will be able to aide in not only the project’s completion but also the unique angles of information gathering that will make the project special. The first step to answering Richard Hackman’s thought on the processes that may lead to the proof or denial of his statement would be to:
• Collect data on the effectiveness of teamwork when involving interoffice projects.
• Do teams or groups succeed or fail when given specific assigned projects.
• Instances of social loafing, what causes it and how it may contribute to group failure.
• Ideals of leadership roles in group projects.
• Does appointing a leader ease the burden on the collective and provide a pivot for seeking guidance and answering questions?
• Utilize the 3×3 prewriting and writing processes to formulate a sound paper complete with effective and receivable data collated for establishing precision in information reporting.
Throughout the ages man has aimed to achieved greatness. Greatness being the key element to man’s desire it in fact the cooperation of fellow peers to achieve more than one man is capable of solely. Perhaps no other organization has adapted this idea more than NASA. NASA knows how effective team work can mean the difference between success and failure, death or life. The importance of teamwork on a task-oriented and interpersonal oriented sense leads to greater success of both current and future missions to come (Landon, L. B., Slack, K. J., & Barrett, J. D.) (Para. 1). NASA recognizes that the success of these future space missions will rely on effective
teamwork (both in a task-oriented and an interpersonally oriented sense). Vast studies are continually being made by NASA on the health and behavioral performance associated with the health risks associated with lack of teamwork, behavioral affects and health decrements when inadequate cooperation is not involved (Landon, 2018) (para. 2). This can also affect coordination of a team’s framework, how information is passed one to another and the psychosocial aspects of teamwork.
NASA’s collective research on teamwork within a confined environment demonstrates that Richard Hackman’s statement may have been ill thought or poorly explained as to the reason why having a team work on a complex project may not produce the best results. It would then be deemed that it is more profitable to culminate once percent of one hundred people’s efforts than one hundred percent of one individual’s effort. NASA is like the borg, for the Sci-Fi enthusiast in that they share a singular goal, and that goal depends on the tasks given to the astronauts however the attitude remains consistent with the end goal being solid cooperation and teamwork which brings the project together. The understanding based on Hackman’s statement would lead many scholars to believe that he was truly against collective effort or group/teamwork but in fact it can be stated otherwise. According to (Anthony T. (Terry), 2003) “Hackman tells the reader that teams can benefit a great deal from clear project direction” (para. 2). Hackman himself highlights the effectiveness of teamwork when it comes to projects and appear compelled to believe that it by clear and precise direction that a team effort can become beneficial (Hackman, 2011) (para 2). Therefore, hackman credits the efforts of teamwork as something that can energize, stimulate a vast wealth of knowledge, improve or showcase both an individual’s skills and talents and give the team a drive to complete its project in a timely manner. (Anthony T. (Terry), 2003). So, the pros associated with teamwork can be attributed to:
• Stimulate knowledge
• Energize a team
• Improve skills and talents
• Provide drive within the individuals of that team
Teams vary largely depending on the organization they are being utilized by. For instance, companies that drill for oil may send out a team of specialist to perform geological surveys before drilling may take place. Another type of team may include doctors who specialize in cancer research or treatment who may undertake special cases for experimental treatments or studies. Whether it is a medical or geological studies one clear understanding comes to mind and that is that teams that work together are not always formulated within the same room or building. Teams can be remote, separate from each other as one author states “Teams are often composed of people with very different cultural backgrounds, ages, functional expertise and personalities. Teams may span national boundaries, including members located in several countries” (West, 2012). This level of cooperation is what the international space station embodies, it represents in today’s eccentric society the new tower of babel and allows many nations of many different tongues to come together and formulate new ideas, research fields and advance human society.
There are statistical advantages to teams when incorporated in the workplace. Although one of the defining differences between teams and groups is that teams are often smaller, more organized and each member can work independently and yet remain accountable for their contribution to the assigned purpose. To clearly understand the inner workings of a group versus a team we will examine the differentiate groups from teams.
Consists of shared goals with a common purpose Have participation requirements for goals to be met, members must be active within the team
Groups can have varied sizes often up to one thousand individuals or just a few Smaller sizes make teams more effective; often ranging from 4 to 20 members
Individuals will often formulate specific task-oriented relationships or form some sort of connection Participants work independently of a central leader
They form cohabitation and interact with each other. There is more interaction between team members and the sharing of ideas
Groups often have one central leader or authoritative figure Team members have more confidence, feel more empowered to act on their ideas.
There are strong influential nuances within groups especially where other cultures are involved There is shared accountability between team members. The projects completion relies heavily on their cooperation.
Data referenced from: (Daniel, 2011)
Success or Failure
Hackman’s mindset towards team or group success gives some insight into the idea that one too many into the pot may tip it in the wrong direction. For this we consider where groups or teams often fail to hit the mark or is collective work studies more beneficial as a whole? According to Richard Hackman teams need to be centered, their efforts need to be collective and the strength pivotal. This was emphasized in one of his statements “The second is that the team should adopt a few pivotal norms to guide its behavior” (Hackman, 2011). Hackman considered the behavior of any given teams to be directly correlated to that team’s success or failure. In a sense the successful transfer of ideas will make or break any team or group, and without a central purpose failure is eminent. The long-standing issue with Hackman’s statement was that he intended to correlate success with reward and often large groups aim to share a reward without all putting forth the same level of effort. Reward distribution lay contingent on group effort, rate of success and that all rewards given were to be equally distributed among the whole (Anthony T. (Terry), 2003) (para. 3). Therefore, with a greater level of success whether in a group or team meant that the reward given would be more appreciated and that it would demonstrate that team’s willingness to stay on task, thus showing a limited level of social loafing.
Psychological differences play a major role in how individuals process information and how they interact within their environment. When working on a project that carries not only a high level of importance but also high level of consequence an individual must have the ability to remain on task. An individual who suffers from social loafing may feel less compelled to put forth 100 percent effort when in a large group rather than when they are working alone. This can lead to performance loss of the group or team effort and can cause a potentially viable project to fail. A study was performed on many students by the Florida State University on social loafing and the perception of social loafing. Some rather interesting findings were discovered. The idea of social loafing had more to do with group member perception than actual social loafing itself, rather individuals in the groups struggled with grasping information but studied and learned but failed to contribute much at the end of the project (Sherry L. Piezon, 2008) (para. 9). This phenom therefore increased the groups or teams’ rate of failure and was simply a factor of group member pairing inconsistency. When a member lacks the knowledge or skills to achieve the given tasks other members will perceive it as social loafing and in turn themselves fall victim to social loafing. Without the correct leadership or a pivotal head figure, a team’s projects may become strenuous and lead to others quitting or even contention.
Leadership in Project Development
When teams undertake a given project they are often faced with either an appointed leader of the group or in certain cases when the group is lead by majority rule. When teams lead by consensus, assignments are pre-agreed on and everyone is given a clear understanding of what their tasks involve. However not all leadership is good leadership and especially when teamwork is the central focus of a groups efforts it is important to appoint the leader with the expertise to manage the workflow that the task demands. In many cases it is more effective to not have a formal leader but rather have a rotating leadership that changes as the tide of the workload and expertise changes from phase to phase (Guffey, 2018) (page. 50). It is important to note that Hackman may not have anticipated the use of rotating leadership when dealing with team efforts to meet the demands of a team project. Truly the collective must be willing to move as the tide changes in a project, but they must also give way to the proper expertise to further progress. Business sense makes progress a viable part of a company’s growth therefore any given project must also evolve as the company changes to meet the societal and consumer related demands that the project may furnish.
Viability of Leadership:
The one factor of leadership to consider is its pivotal role, what it provides and how it keeps the group centered. In all nations foreign or domestic leadership has been shown to be very beneficial as a way of demonstrating structure. Structure in a business sense is also essential and make a group or team project more attractive. Participants rely on their appointed or elected leader in a similar way as most countries look to their leaders for guidance. Not all participants arrive with a vast well of knowledge ready to tackle the task, however their appointed leader may have some insight as to how the project should flow. Flow is very important especially when information is transferred, and transitions take place. Transitions also include rotating leadership as afore mentioned. However, leading a team can prove rather difficult when members are of different ages, cultural backgrounds, genders and even ethnicity. Team members needed to possess certain skills as stated by one author “Team members should possess the necessary technical expertise, problem- solving skills, and interpersonal skills” (Guffey, 2018). Now considering the skills necessary it is imperative that we understand that this cannot solely rest on the team leader to demonstrate but must come from all participating members. The viability of the team leader is only as a pivotal source of guidance, to aide in answering questions and focus on the directive.
In summary Richard Hackman had a great point and purpose in noting that is may not be necessary or of the best interest to use a team when working on a complex project. However, the times have greatly changed and with tremendous advancement in technology teams can be formulated from all over the world. A great example is the international space station (ISS), which has been proven to achieve monumental success in the advancement of both medical and engineering feats. Cultural walls are beginning to fall, language barriers are almost nonexistent with the utilization of interpreters and even programs from Google translate. Companies can boldly go where their forefathers were not able to and find success even in the recesses of the jungles of south America. It is with great confidence that teams can step forth knowing what Hackman has said and defy the odds by formulating teams that have understanding, knowledge and the ability to analyze and gather information to produce the end results of a project that is both successful and educational. It works because teams are willing to take on complex projects and make them a success.
Anthony T. (Terry), C. (2003). Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances J. Richard Hackman. Administrative Science Quarterly, pp. , (4), 712. doi:10.2307/3556648.
Daniel, L. (2011). Group dynamics for teams. Los Angels California : SAGE. Retrieved from http://libguides.gwumc.edu/c.php?g=365963;p=2473007
Guffey, M. E. (2018). Business Communication: Process ; Product (9 ed.). Retrieved from https://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/#/books/9781337514385
Hackman, J. R. (2011). Collaborative Intelligence : Using Teams to Solve Hard Problems. . San Francisco, CA:: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Landon, L. B. (2018). Teamwork and collaboration in long-duration space missions: Going to extremes. . American Psychologist, 73(4), doi:10.1037/amp0000260, 563-575.
Sherry L. Piezon, W. D. (2008). Perceptions of Social Loafing in Online Learning Groups: A study of Public University and U.S. Naval War College students. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/484/1034
West, M. A. (2012). Effective teamwork. electronic resource : practical lessons from organizational research. Chichester,. Malden, Mass.: West Sussex ; : BPS, John Wiley ; Sons, Incorporated.