I decided to add all my posts from the now defunct Blogspot since it was sucked up by Google and I don’t use Google for anything except Google Earth. Most of my posts were done during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war and I don’t want them lost. This WordPress blog, started as an assignment in my MLIS program technology course seems the best place to put them. So all the following posts today will be those that I wrote in July-August of 2006 from Israel.
A lot of material was presented in the two webcasts and the self-assessment surveys presented in Lesson 5. In the interest of keeping this blog short and (hopefully) interesting, I will highlight the areas I found the most compelling.
Dr. Haycock presented some very interesting ideas on how to create a successful team. In my opinion, the most important was the establishment of ground rules. I know from personal experience that when there are no rules and expectations are not understood, misunderstandings can occur and lead to either the disintegration of the project and/or team. I also agree that it is very important to be able to clearly state the team goals as soon as possible after the formation of the team. This helps tremendously when evaluating interim progress and completion. In an environment where the team is very short-term, such as one put together for a semester only, ground rule establishment and goal setting seems critical to success.
One idea that was new to me from Dr. Haycock’s presentation was the notion of developing formal decision procedures. Most of the decision procedures I have come across have been ad-hoc, on-the-fly and they change frequently. What a great idea to come to a consensus at team formation on how decisions should be made. I think this could help tremendously in reducing unproductive conflict.
As long as the environment in which the team operates is actually supportive of the team, many of the dysfunctional behaviors discussed by Dr. Haycock will quickly appear, especially absence of trust, lack of commitment, and avoidance of accountability. For example, when it is clear that each individual on the team will be evaluated and ranked based on relative performance of their peers, competition amongst team members can lead to serious performance degradation of the team. In my opinion, as long as everyone is treated equally, contributes equally, plans carefully, and the team leader is more like a mentor than a dictator, the team will be successful.
I found Enid Irwin’s discussion extremely helpful in understanding what issues can arise in short-term, distributed team projects. I believe it is much easier to exhibit the “barriers to success” in such a configuration. For example, it is easier to not contribute when people are not staring you down. I’m thinking that in the future, if the program were to add Webcams to the list of required equipment, much of the problems created by remote conferencing would be solved.
In general, I agree with the speakers’ conclusions. I was impressed with the research used to back up the assertions. It is also very helpful to understand what issues can arise, how you can deal with them early on, and getting this information so early in our program.
I’m starting this blog as an assignment for my first course in the MLIS program at SJSU. I have had a blog in the past, on the now defunct “BlogSpot”, but I haven’t really blogged since 2006 when I was living in Northern Israel during the 2006 2nd Lebanon war. I have since moved my blog to Facebook, but the layout makes it hard to find.
I am looking forward to working on my MLIS, but a little scared about the time commitment. I work full-time and have 3 grammar school-aged kids. Since they were all born in Israel and we only moved back a year ago, I spend a great deal of time working with them helping to get them up to speed in English. Arabic is their first language. On top of that, I don’t want them to lose their Arabic language abilities, so they get extra homework in Arabic. I also feel it’s important to stay connected at school, so I usually volunteer for each of their classes. The time management schedule for working moms posted on the SLIS Survival guide contains a schedule that would have me up at 4:00am and to bed at 11:00pm….I’m pretty sure I’d be a basket case after a week of that schedule! Fortunately, I only signed up for one class this semester so I can see how much I can handle. I’m sure there are lots of other people in this program with similar or worse schedules, so I won’t complain too much.
Over the summer, I volunteered at our local library to help with the Summer Reading Program. That was a lot of fun. I was amazed at how many kids completed the program (and got their prizes) and how many supportive parents there were. I got to see what books kids were excited about and actually got a lot of good references for my own kids. I will definitely volunteer to help out next summer.