Got any horror stories of working in a group? Supervised the project team from hell? I came across some work which suggests that "bad apples" can be the predictor of a group's success i.e. that the group can only do as well as it's worst member. Which is kinda depressing. There were three types of "bad apple" behaviour which influence other group members to behave in a similar way:
- Slacker - does nothing, says he doesn't care and infects everyone else with apathy. Slackers flop about on desks, apparently.
- Depressive pessimist: says the project is too hard, they can't succeed and it is too boring, thus convincing everyone else it isn't worth trying.
- Jerk: tells everyone else their ideas are rubbish, but doesn't contribute anything better himself. This is my personal pet hate. I can't bear that.
For a succinct text summary, see http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001227.html. There is quite an interesting interview with the researcher on the first 11 mins of this radio show.
I went to a conference last week where one of the speakers suggested getting students to storyboard scenarios of dysfunctional groups. They could make comic strips of common problems groups come across (and hopefully how to solve them). It would be cathartic for the poor chickens. Maybe it would work better with dolls in a therapist's office...
But seriously, maybe it's worth making students aware of these negative behaviours so they can try to avoid them in themselves and others. I herbey resolve to stop banging my head on the desk in staff meetings.