Taking the Haze

If I had my own reality television show, this week’s episode would be called “Taking the Haze”….why, you say?  Because this week, I’m back in the grips of that dreaded activity called group work. 

You remember group work – many of you still have scars from group work;  being stuck doing all the work, showing up for meetings that everyone else seemed to miss, arguing with that one person in your group that didn’t have a CLUE….ahhh group work.

Before I go further, I would like to say that the group I met with the other night is an excellent group.  Everyone showed up on time, everyone contributed, and had ideas, and all of us are up for doing whatever it takes to get the paper done – but this is not typical.

I still have scars from a group project gone awry at Hampton University…I remember that day like it was yesterday – I’m standing in front of the “Norma B. and William R. Harvey Library”, waiting for my group member, and after 25-30min I start to get suspicious…so I call his cell phone – he tells me he’s 5 minutes from campus, I calm down a bit.  Twenty minutes later I see his roommate, and ask about my partner’s whereabouts, at which point I’m told “Walt was on the couch when I left the house 15 minutes ago”.  YIKES 

Nine years later (double yikes) I can laugh about this BUT the overarching point is that group work is a HAZE.  Having been out of school mode for so long – to come back – only to be confronted by the main activity that I so dreaded just makes me sigh.

I guess the toughest thing about group work is the time it sucks up, with total strangers – sure, sometimes you luck up and get a good group…I was a part of a group that invented the smart phone (senior year, HU, we called it the Denechris)… but many times that’s just not the case. 

Unfortunately, none of the new fangled means of communication can substitute for making the time to physically meet with your group.  I can’t tweet my part of the paper to my group, or use Facebook or Blackberry IM to get a stellar finished project – no….we’ve got to take it back to the old school way, meet at the library and have a real meeting of the minds.

DS Download:  Something about group work just seems un-American…when you think of the typical American story, you think of a small town guy or girl striking out on their own and making it big…there’s never anything about group work, meeting in libraries, compromising etc.  But I guess, behind every truly great thing there’s a group – right? 

Think about the group work that went into the constitution, a document that is THE foundation of our society today – a document that was finalized about 222 years ago still exists as this society’s glue…now that’s one hell of a group project….but, I digress. 

Groups expose you – they 100% test your medal….Are you going to pull your weight?  Do you have anything to contribute?  Do you have writing skills?  Are you going to do all the work?  And, if you’re forced to do all the work – are you going to have the balls to expose the freeloader to the teacher?  Yes…we may be in our 30’s, but we still might have to tell on someone!

We all have to take hazes, and for any of you that are considering going back to school, you need to be prepared to “get in the cut”.


One thought on “Taking the Haze

  1. Ok…you don’t like group work. I’ll work with you there. But unAmerican? C’mon! I’ve worked in my fair share of groups as a seemingly career student, myself. I’ve been there. However, I would argue that it is working in groups that prepares us to be more effective leaders more than just about anything, particularly when you are working with a rather unproductive group. Just think of everything you learn. You’ll probably be able to look back on the finished product and reflect on who contributed what to it and who didn’t; then review the behavior of each member from the very beginning. There were probably all kinds of signs and warnings about who was who from the start. You can take that experience and use it later in your professional life to decide what kind of professionals you want to surround yourself with, who to hire and fire and how to delegate. You can also, likely, use this kind of experience to develop some very necessary patience, poise and composure for future challenges that you may find yourself in with groups in the future.

    I’m glad you’re willing to acknowledge the Constitution as the ultimate example of successful group work. It means you’re one of those people who keeps things in prospective.

    In the end, however, think of it this way: at least there is no more draft — or if there were it, likely, wouldn’t include women! Can you imagine yourself in the Army or Marine Core with the kind of impression of group work you have? Now, I’m kind of curious as to what your experience in working with groups as a Student Leader was like…LOL!

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