Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Counting sheep before sleep?

When the wise guy wrote "Too many cook spoil the broth", my guess is he himself probably wouldn't have been too assertive about the line. For, I suspect there wouldn't have been MBAs then. After spending about five months with groups on different occasions, one thing has cemented strongly within me: It's damn tough for a group of MBAs to work together to give the optimal output. We might think that if one guy is capable of doing a job in 5 minutes, a group of five would do 5 jobs in the same time. But in reality, this is just wishful thinking. I guess the phenomenon applies equally well to other groups as well, as long as it’s an intellectual group trying to solve a complex problem.

I'm not trying to say that there are inherent problems with the people in the groups. As far as I could see, it’s just that people don't tend to give the maximum in a group, thereby severely affecting the time and efficiency of the output. Most of the time, even if a group of 10 equally talented guys (theoretically, atleast) meet, it's only two or three who do the job. Some of them 'chill out’ while some of them just play the role of Devil's advocate. Again, I'm not trying to find fault with people. The problem is with the system called 'Group work'. Every time a group meeting is over, six of us would have wasted (yeah, wasted is the word) six hours for doing a job that would've taken 3 hours for a guy who works sincerely. Many a times, individuals feel that their points have lost in the phalanx of thoughts that originate in the meeting. Many others would’ve just been there in the chaos, which is mere waste of time considering that the world provides interesting things like movies and games to invest time on.

The problem with the group work could be due to 'social loafing'. For starters, it’s a phenomenon where people try to delegate the work to others and ‘chill out’, hoping that others would complete. Ego-clashes could also be a potential problem. Another behavioral theory says that ‘Abilene Paradox’ comes into effect, where people try not to displease others by contributing their controversial albeit constructive viewpoint. Whatever the reason is, I've come to believe that group work doesn't even come close to how we think it should ideally be. My views are shared by most of my batchmates, give or take one or two self-endorsed nerds.

Now, the most pertinent question is whether our behavior could be changed in an organizational setting after the learnings we go through. We've learned all about the behavior of humans at work, the different motivational and psychological theories. Do we really make sure that we apply them to make the world a better place? I personally don't see any positive change in any of the groups before and after the several ‘promising’ and positive sounding courses. So, if the answer is no, what is the real point in learning at all? What is the guarantee that we'd apply everything in the organizations to create a cozy atmosphere?

Nice questions to think while waiting to get into wonderland (sleep that is). A definite alternate to counting sheep!

A useless & admittedly nonsensical note: There is this competition called “The best Indian Business School Blog” that is conducted by ISB where yours truly would probably a participant. There are no rules or guidelines mentioned to become the Best Indian B-school blog. So, gimme some ideas, if any, to become the "best among the Indian Business school blogs" …


At Wednesday, November 10, 2004 2:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your Google contest, you may want to take a look at to figure out what page ranks are all about.

At Wednesday, November 10, 2004 3:02:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

Amazing! thanks!

At Wednesday, November 10, 2004 3:37:00 AM, Blogger Chandoo said...

So what...
you had your trip to abeline???
Think about how smart mbas are... they further devide the group work so that all this group shit/think/social loafing doesnot happen. :D:D

All D Best.

At Wednesday, November 10, 2004 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

We divide work, yes, but then, wee aren't supposed to. :-P

At Friday, November 12, 2004 1:07:00 AM, Blogger kr!sh said...

Hey Maamu

I am doing good :-).. Just graduated from Univ of Michigan with walking colors ! Nice blog u got in here..

I think a Leader is quintessential to the group to eliminate the aforementioned problems..corollary is if he eliminates the problems, hes a good leader !

At Friday, November 12, 2004 10:45:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

Hey machi, yeah, true to an extent. Selection of a leader in a peer group would be toughest task - one involving lot of ego clashes.

At Friday, December 24, 2004 12:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

work is given to a group of people to share their ideas while WORKING. it must not only stop with that it must also be sharing of the work equally(who is to decide on the equal allocation of work is again a group conundrum)i really believe a person is better than 10 people in a group with all the redtapism.the most difficult thing in group work for me is to assemble the people for the group meeting and even when they r assembled they cant discuss anything constructive with all the cellphone(technology) interruptions from girls to boys and boys to girls even when they r just missed calls(i dont know what this missed calls convey)but some romeos in my class say they r to reinforce the belief that u r always thinking of the other person (then when do they find time to think of themselves and most importantly about the group task)

At Friday, December 24, 2004 3:22:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

Hmmm. Quite a lot agigated by group behaviour. :)

Pls leave ur identity next time.. i.e in case u happen to visit this comment again.


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