Calendar of Events

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Monday, 13 September (or sooner)

Virtual Organization Workshop begins

Team composition will be posted to the VOW web page during the weekend of
September 11-12, or sooner if class rosters are fim earlier. Visit the web page at http://www.som.gmu.edu/cramton/orgworkshop2/index.html to get the names and email addresses of your teammates, and to learn more about the project, the participating schools and faculty, and the available communication and collaborative tools.

You should get in touch with your team members immediately. With that said, however, everyone please note and do your best with one unavoidable work-around: The University of Auckland is on mid-semester break from Sept. 6-17, having begun the semester on July 21. Establish that you have accurate email addresses for each other, start to get to know each other, and begin work on the two team-building assignments: the Totem Exercise and the Team Contract. The Totem Exercise is due by email to each instructor at approximately 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 GMU time, 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 UWA time, and 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 AU time. The Team Contract is due by email to each instructor at about the same time one week later (October 1-2). The two team-building deliverables will be graded together and are worth 10 percent of your grade in the course you are taking.

Team members from George Mason University will send their partners at the other schools information about how to access the Lotus Notes database that has been set up to facilitate each team’s work. In addition, we invite you to visit the "Tool Kit" on the VOW web page. It contains links to two different web-based personality tests that teams may choose to explore, time zone information, and tips on working in a virtual team, working cross-culturally, and using ICQ, Lotus Notes, NetMeeting and videoconferencing.

Friday, 24 September

Totem Exercise due
3 pages, copies emailed to all instructors

Introduction.  The word “totem" comes from the ancient Ojibwa Indian word "nintotem", meaning "mark of my family or group."  Totems are symbols that capture both the "who" of a group and often, the "how" ¾ they represent personal and collective identity and are used in various group rituals.

 

You are becoming a member of a new type of work group. It represents new possibilities for the "who" and "how" of work groups, with membership spanning continents and new tools for communication and collaboration. Your work group also is part of a larger learning community exploring culture, technology, change and collaboration. In this assignment, you will be using the totem concept to begin learning about the individuals who compose your new group and creating a group that can work and learn effectively.


Instructions.  Your central task is to create a group totem that can be portrayed visually and to post the group’s totem to a web page.  On 24 September, your group should turn in by email to each instructor a report (maximum of 3 pages) which includes the following:

 

1)         A visual representation of your totem.  This can be a drawing, a photo, or some combination of these.  The totem need not be just one thing; it can depict a scene.  Thus, you could have some kind of action taking place - a deer jumping, a phoenix flying, hands applauding, etc.

 

2)         A written description of the totem which details its symbolic value for the entire group.  This should address the following: 

·           What are the important features of the totem?  Why this symbol and not another? 

·           What are the numinous/archetypal aspects of the totem?  In other words, how does the symbol connect you to more than your group? (Note: Symbol dictionaries can be helpful here, though please use them only as starting points and not definitive guides). 

·           What group values and beliefs are captured by the totem?  How does it speak to the kind of group you think you are and the kind of group you want to be? 

·           What does the totem suggest about practical group doings and behaviours?  Does it suggest particular ways of doing things?

 

3)         Written descriptions of how the totem connects to each person in the group. 

·           Where does the symbol find its place in individuals' beliefs?

·           What does the totem suggest about individual actions and commitments?

 

4)                   The URL for the web page to which your group’s totem and description is posted.


Friday, 1 October

Team Contract due
approximately one page, copies emailed to all instructors

Creating a team contract can help your team clarify its goals and operating guidelines, ultimately improving team performance.  Now that you have worked together once, on the Totem assignment, you may have more specific ideas about how team members can best work together on the Jacobs Suchard case.

 

Your contract should outline the behaviors your group agrees to and supports.  At a minimum, your contract should include the goals, roles and norms for your team.

 

Goals – The measurable, expected outcomes from your group work.

 

Roles – Roles specify who is responsible for what on the team.  Some possible roles for case analysis teams include:

 

·         meeting coordinator, assembler of the final paper, writer of the diagnostic section, writer of the recommendations section, writer of the implementation section

·         change management expert, technology expert, group process facilitator, culture expert

           

Norms – Norms specify the behaviors the team believes are important to achieving its goals.  Often norms can be identified by discussing what has gone wrong (or right) on previous collaborative efforts.  For your VOW team, you may want to pay special attention to communication norms: how often people will check email or databases, how quickly they will respond to messages, the extent to which they will keep teammates apprised of their schedule and constraints, etc.

 

Sanctions – Measures your team will employ to control or prevent undesirable behaviors while working on the project.

 

Feel free to use the sample contract below as a model.

 

A Sample Team Contract

 

Our goals are to improve the coordination of work between Technical Sales and Operations, raise customer satisfaction, and reduce delivery time.

 

Team roles will consist of a team leader, a scribe and an observer.  These roles will be rotated among the group members.

 

To achieve our goals we agree to (norms):

·         We will be on time for scheduled group meetings

·         Each member is expected to attend all group meetings.  If unable to attend, the team member must notify the group of the intended absence (preferably at the prior group meeting) and arrange for another member to take over his/her responsibilities.

·         We will come to each meeting with assignments completed.  Maximum utilization of time is key.

·         Everyone will actively participate in each meeting.

·         We will have bi-weekly 2-hour meetings.

·         We will encourage open discussion and be willing to try new ideas.

·         Last, but not least, we will learn from each other.

 

Sanctions – We will check with team members who seem to be violating our agreed-upon norms.  If their behavior doesn’t improve, we will ask the leader to discuss the behavior with them.  Ultimately, if the behavior doesn’t improve, the member risks receiving poor peer evaluations. 

 

November 9, 1998

 

Pat Smith

Lynn Falkowski

Syd Hayden


Tuesday, 19 October

Jacobs Suchard case analysis due, 7-10 pages
Turn in a paper copy when your class meets this week
Peer evaluation of team members conducted this week

Jacobs and Zinser have asked your team to answer the following questions for Jacobs Suchard. You are not bound by what was possible technically in 1989- 1992 period. Your team’s analysis of the Suchard case will be worth 20 percent of your grade in the course you are taking.

  1. What is your assessment of the goals of the organization in the change process and the organization’s readiness for change? In other words, state what you think they are trying to accomplish and make some assessment as to whether these goals make sense. (1-2 pages)

  2. What are your specific recommendations for change at this point in the organization’s history? Be sure to consider the critical information and technology issues that Jacobs Suchard will need to address to support its new organizational goals. Pay attention to the roles that both organizational structure and technology can play in improving coordination between global brand sponsors, manufacturing managers, general managers and the EVP. (3-4 pages)

Your recommendations should address the situation that exists when the case ends in April 1989. Big actions, such as closing manufacturing plants, should be considered final. However, current roles, organizational structure, etc. may not be final.

  1. What action plan do you recommend for implementing your proposed changes? Specify a timeline including the initial steps in the change process, the management of the change process and the institutionalization of the change. (2-3 pages)

In other words, what is your overall strategy for change and the sequence of key events and activities that you think need to happen? You need not specify time periods, such as first 30 days, second 30 days, etc. In particular, think about 1) initial steps/readiness for change, 2) management of the change process itself and 3) institutionalization of the change.

Finally, on the last page of this paper, we ask your VOW team to reflect on how you see yourselves as a group now that you are coming to the end of your work together. You began the process by creating a totem for your group. Do you choose the same image now, a modification of that image, or a completely different image? You do not need to provide any explanation of the image your team chooses now. Just make the image the last page of your case assignment paper and post it at the same web site as your original totem. There are no right and wrong answers. Rather, it is an invitation to reflect honestly on the experience your team had in this new world of collaboration.


Updated 8/16/1999

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Copyright 1998 George Mason University