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Team Problem Solving Exercise
The Situation:
In all of the following situations, Judy is a student who has been assigned to work with 6
other classmates to complete a business project. The project represents a major portion
of her grade. There is work that must be completed outside of class and during class.
However, no meetings are required outside of class. The project spans the entire term
and students are given 2 hours of class time each week to work on their project.
For each of the following situations, identify the team dysfunction that is present. Does it
deal with a lack of effective communication, shared purpose, or something else? Then
go on to describe what can be done to improve the function of the team.
Situation 1: Judy is an all A student. George is only in school so he can remain on his
parent’s insurance policy. Tara is going to transfer to another institution so she only
needs to earn a grade of “C”
What is the dysfunction that is present? Does it have to do with lack of effective
communication, shared purpose, or something else?
What can be done, if anything, to improve the function of the team?
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Situation 2: Judy works hard and always comes to class with her work on the project
completed. Because Tara does not do her assigned work, the team has fallen behind in
their work and their grade will likely suffer. Tara always has an excuse but Judy resents
that her life is also filled with challenge.
What is the dysfunction that is present? Does it have to do with lack of effective
communication, shared purpose, or something else?
What can be done, if anything, to improve the function of the team?
Situation 3: Bruce contributes to the team but most often he is complaining about the
assignment and the class. Furthermore, he doesn’t listen to what other members of the
team have to say and as a result his contributions aren’t appreciated by other team
members.
What is the dysfunction that is present? Does it have to do with lack of effective
communication, shared purpose, or something else?
What can be done, if anything, to improve the function of the team?
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Situation 4: Judy works hard and contributes to the project. Her experience and talent
far exceeds that of other team members. She finds that it is less time consuming for her
to simply put together the report than to explain to the others what needs to be done.
Furthermore, she wonders if they would be able to handle the items. She doesn’t want to
turn in substandard work. Judy hates the project and the class. She feels it is a waste of
her time. She is thinking of dropping the class.
What is the dysfunction that is present? Does it have to do with lack of effective
communication, shared purpose, or something else?
What can be done, if anything, to improve the function of the team?
Situation 5: Bruce is pressed for time so he wants to rush through the project. Judy
wants to hand in a quality job. Tara agrees with Bruce and feels that Judy is too
“particular” about what needs to be done. Tara just wishes they would all stop arguing.
What is the dysfunction that is present? Does it have to do with lack of effective
communication, shared purpose, or something else?
What can be done, if anything, to improve the function of the team?
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Situation 6: Judy has a great deal of knowledge and experience to bring to the project.
Tara and George appreciate this but feel their views are cut off and not appreciated. As a
result, Tara and George attend meetings without much preparation and spend more time
watching the clock than anything else.
What is the dysfunction that is present? Does it have to do with lack of effective
communication, shared purpose, or something else?
What can be done, if anything, to improve the function of the team?
FINAL LEARNING POINT!
In the above situations, how many of the problems could be solved by improving team
communication?
How many of the problems were the result of a lack of shared purpose for which no
solution seemed adequate?
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