I spend a lot of my time planning, preparing, organising and generally trying to work through the processes that I need to, to get things done. I can frequently be found surrounded by pieces of paper and pens, scribbling down ideas, drawing up lists or tables, and creating templates and plans.
On the one hand I like the mental space of me and my pen, sometimes flip chart and often my keyboard, writing down ideas, considering, cogitating, reflecting and polishing, untangling my thoughts so that they look the way that I want. I like to get my ideas down and to lay them out in a way that enables me to think, to create solutions and concrete plans. It’s important to have this time, and I enjoy the introspection. There is no one to tell me I am wrong, disturb my patterns of thought or tell me which direction I need to go in. I am guided, moderated and powered by myself.
I can in this way do what I want to do.
Taking a step away from my own undistracted time to work alone, there is however a different part of me that loves to get feedback, to discuss, throw ideas around, ask questions, and gather thoughts and ideas. Sometimes bouncing ideas off one other person just won’t cut it – great for a few questions, to sound out something, but not so great for tackling those dilemmas, really getting into the nitty gritty of something. That’s when I need to draw upon the power of working in a group.
Being part of a group can provide so many different opportunities:
- Room for discussion, and sharing of ideas, to get feedback on suggestions and to reword things, realign things and to test things out.
- There is the power of a lot of different brains all looking at the same thing and bringing different perspectives, suggestions and ideas to the table.
- Different people have different experiences even when working in the same job and of course there are different types of personality that make for a rich mix.
- People energise other people and if carefully managed this can be a motivating and fulfilling way of working.
- It can also be fun, and when people are relaxed and happy they are far more likely to think in imaginative, creative and colourful ways.
- If your work involves others, the likelihood is that whatever you are working on will impact upon them. Working in a group will allow you to discuss that impact first hand.
Working in a group can be less easy than working alone and seem more time consuming to start with. There can be power struggles, disagreements, lack of consensus and discussions can go on for hours. Some people will have more to bring to a particular group, and others much less, in the same way that different people will get different things out of the group. The right people are not always in the group in the first place. Some people will say they don’ t like working with others. And of course not everything can be done this way.
But when the time is right, the mix of people is right and everyone is working in a meaningful and productive way, group work is a really valuable and cost effective asset.
When the dynamics are managed correctly and the function and purpose is clear and understood, then a group working together can produce a piece of work in a fraction of the time it takes and individual to do.
When there is a good structure and process to guide the group along, so that decisions can be made and discussions are fruitful, a group can be so much more efficient.
There often needs to be fine tuning and writing up and follow ups to group work, but a large body of work can be achieved through careful collaboration.
Working in a group is not always the way forward, but when it is, it is important to grab it with both hands and make the most out of it you can. And of course one of the keys to ensuring that it will be productive and achieve your aims, is the effective management and facilitation of that group.
What do you love about working in a group?