Group Work: The Good and the Bad

A Response to The Questions for Wednesday’s Class:

1. How can incentives impact the dynamics of a group or community?

We talked about Prisoner’s Dilemma in class.  If the group is given an incentive that requires them to work together for everyone to benefit, the group will work well together.  If the group receives an incentive that pits them against each other, then they are not as likely to work together, because each individual person will be concerned with their own welfare.  If the group receives an incentive that is only dependent on one person’s work,and the rest of the group can slack off, then other group members are likely to take it easy while one person does the majority of the work.  The impact of an incentive depends on the reward structure of the  incentive.

2. What are some of the costs and benefits of group participation (compare that to individual action)?

Let’s do some pros and cons, shall we?

Pros of Group Work:

  • More motivation to do stuff, because you know someone else will hold you accountable
  • Sometimes you become really good friends with group members
  • Easier to set aside a time to all come together and work, rather than having to slave away by yourselves.
  • You’re not alone.  It’s a little less overwhelming than doing it by yourself.

Cons of Group Work:

  • One person might get stuck doing all the work
  • If you divvy up assignments in a process, you might be stuck waiting for someone to do their part so you can do yours
  • Coordinating schedules….oh goodness is that difficult, especially with college students.  It means you often have group meetings really late in the evening, because that’s the only time when someone doesn’t have class or work.

Pros of Individual Action:

  • You can do what you want to how you want to
  • You can do it when you want to
  • You can often get it done in less time (because you don’t have to go to meetings, discuss things, etc), but maybe not as good
  • Your ideas are always the best of the team, because you’re the only one in your team!

Cons of Individual Action:

  • Easy to procrastinate
  • Can seem overwhelming by yourself
  • Lonely

Most of these apply to group projects, because that’s the majority of my experience with group work.  However, here’s a little nugget: it’s more fun to listen to a group project presented by two or more students rather than a long lecture presented by one student.  The same applies to social media.  It’s more fun to listen to your friend’s conversations about a product/brand/event than it is to hear that product/brand/event tooting it’s own horn.  Groups and social interaction are incredibly important for the success of a business.  It’s like we talked about in class.  We need connectivity, centrality, transitivity, etc…

3. What are the effects of consensus in a group?

If everyone agrees, it’s easier to work together.  Agreeing means you have the same goal.  You can work more efficiently if everyone is working towards the same goal, rather than having everyone working in different directions.

4. Is it better to be a part of a large group/community or a small group/community?

I think it is better to be part of a large group/community and then to form smaller subgroups within that community. The benefit of that model is that there is always room to grow and expand.

For example, let’s say a bagel business in New York hires you to help them with their social media.  Being in New York, they’re just another bagel shop.  People may not notice them very much.  It is harder to make connections in a bigger group.  So, they’ve got to start building a smaller sub-group from the people in New York for people to notice them.  They need to leverage their social ties fo a chance to grow.  We might start out having all their friends and family like the facebook page, and offer incentives for people who visit the shop to like the page on facebook, tweet, or foursquare that they’re there.  Then, we might try to have our more famous customers like our page.  We might have daily contests, neighborhood specials, or posts about bagels and life, or stuff like that.  Soon, we would grow a small sub-group of New York that is part of this bagel shop’s community. From there, we can only expound outward.    However, if we had a bagel shop in a small town, then we could only survive if all the people in that small town gave us business.  If a bigger better bagel shop comes to town, we’re out of business.  However, in a larger community, there is more opportunity to succeed.  You just have to work a little harder.

5. How do social pressures affect the dynamics of a group?

Everyone is influenced by social pressures.  As it influences the individual members of a group, it influences the group. Let’s take Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign for example.  It seems like before, the group, or society, was more focused on how to fit in, how to be beautiful, how to be part of the “beautiful” crowd.  Then Dove released their Real Beauty campaign, including their Real Beauty Sketches YouTube video.    Here’s the video:

I think Dove invited people to expand their definition of beautiful, and because of social media, the people get to be heard now.  Now, there is more acceptance for different kinds of beautiful.  I probably see at least one post per week of someone sharing their thoughts on what real beauty is.  Some are re-sharing blog posts or videos (including Dove’s), and some just like to share their opinions, like this one.

Image

Several people liked her post, and (although you can’t see it in the screenshot), several people commented as well.  The social pressures of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign impacted my group.  Our dynamics are not so much about fitting a definition of beauty, but about each person being beautiful on their own.  Dove influenced us.  Now we’ve got to get WesterCon to influence people like that.

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