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Decisions Teamwork EthicsChapter Writing

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This chapter is about teamwork and team performance. The first section is about high performance teams. There are several characteristics of high performance teams -- that they have a sense of urgency, that they have clear goals and direction, and that the members have the right mix of skills to perform the tasks expected of them. The team should have a high level of collective intelligence.

The next section outlines the team-building process. Team-building occurs when somebody notices that there is an actual or potential problem with team performance. Even the best teams have moments where they are not functioning as well as they could be, but team-building is a tool by which team performance can be restored. There are different techniques for team-building used in business today. Some include the outdoor experience approach, and the formal retreat approach. In other instances, a continuous improvement approach is preferred.

There are several elements to improving team processes. The first concerns the entry of new members to the team, where they must be onboarded and enculturated. There are different types of new members, and the team should react differently to each one.

Different forms of leadership with the team structure are discussed. One is that task and maintenance leadership is distributed throughout the group. Task activities are those that contribute to the performance of the team, while maintenance activities are those that support the emotional life of the team. Leadership is responsible for managing disruptive behaviors within the team, as these might limit team effectiveness.

Each team member should have a defined role. There are many problems that can arise in determining roles. There might be role ambiguity, where people do not understand what role that they play; there might be role overload where someone has too much responsibility, or role underload where they do not have enough. Role conflict occurs when there are conflicting roles that are incompatible, leading to the person being unable to fulfill his or her role within the team.

Teams establish norms of behavior. There are going to be norms with respect to performance, with respect to ethics, with respect to personal conduct, and norms regarding task behaviors like supporting, and improving. Each will reflect the culture of the team. One issue here is social loafing, where a team member slacks off, defined as the tendency to reduce effort when working in teams.

Team cohesiveness is "the degree to which members are attracted to a group and motivated to remain a part of it. Conformity to norms usually aids in cohesiveness. More homogenous teams are more cohesive. With an organization there might also be inter-team dynamics, governing the relationship between different teams in the organization.

Communication is another essential component of well-functioning teams. There are communication networks with any team: interacting, co-acting and counteracting teams represent three different styles. Proxemics is the use of space, which can affect communication within teams. Technology is another key concept -- virtual communication networks allow for teams to be spread far apart physically.

Decision-making occurs in a number of ways with teams. There is authority rule, minority rule, majority rule, consensus and unanimous decision-making. Teams should be alert for problems like groupthink, when group members fail to critically think about issues, instead opting for an easy solution. There are many causes of groupthink and just as many ways to counter them (p.189).

Among the team decision-making techniques identified are brainstorming, the nominal group technique (using structured rules for generating ideas), and the Delphi technique (using surveys or questionnaires to generate ideas).

Chapter 9: Decision Making and Creativity

There are several steps in the decision-making process: define the problem, identify alternatives, choose preferred action, implement, evaluate. Underlying all of these steps is ethical decision-making. Moral dilemmas can arise in the decision-making process. These are defined as dilemma offering two or more ethically uncomfortable alternatives. There are different types of ethical decision-making criteria. These include utility, rights, justice and caring. Such ethical double-checks help the decision-maker to develop more well-considered alternatives to challenging decisions.

There are different types of decisions. There are programmed decisions, which are more or less predetermined, either by rule or by past experience. Non-programmed decisions are ones created specifically for the problem at hand, and this category includes crisis decisions. In addition, there are different types of risk environments. Some decisions are made in an environment characterized by certainty, while others are characterized by riskier environments, where there is less information and less certainty.

Many decisions will be made in a risky environment. Risk management is therefore an important aspect of decision-making. Risks must be analyzed and taken into account when making decisions.

Some people utilize decision-making models. These include classical decision making models that assume the decision-maker is operating in an environment of certainty; behavioral models that assume decision makers are acting only in terms of what they perceive about the situation. There is also systematic (rational) and intuitive (gut) thinking.

There are many constraints and traps to effective decision-making. Heuristics are "rules of thumb" and are commonly used. Decisions can be based on recent events (availability heuristic), based on assuming that two things are similar (representativeness heuristic), or using some historic reference point (anchoring heuristic). Many biases can also creep into decision-making. These include confirmation bias -- seeking to confirm what you are already predisposed to think is correct; the hindsight trap and the framing error, where the decision-maker has framed a problem or issue in a certain way.

These complications make it important, then, to know when to make a decision. Analysis paralysis benefits nobody. In essence, the decision-maker needs to know whether or not time will make a difference to the decision. If not, then the decision should be made. Some of these aspects of decision-making are slightly different in the team context than with individuals. Team decisions are made by all members of the team, but there are also consultative decisions where a key individual makes a decision after consulting with expert group members.

The decision tree is a method of understanding how a decision is made. It enables the user to track the many different pathways a decision can take, in order to understand what the best decision might be in a given situation, given a set of objectives.

There is also a section on creativity, noting that there are differences between personal and team creativity drivers. Individuals are creative based on their own task expertise, motivation, while team creativity drivers are decision-making technique, external support and creative membership.


High performance teams need to be motivated, and Evernham's team has that motivation as well. They are aware of the dangers of complacency. As a result, they are always seeking to improve their times. The team also emphasizes team knowledge, and the idea that the team as a whole can have a higher level of knowledge than any one individual. Further, this high performing team also has a high level of discipline. They know that discipline is a hallmark of the high performing teams, because they do not have any lapses in their quality level.

If I was hired as the new pit crew chief, realistically I would find someone who had been with the team for a long time, and allow them to ensure that the norm that were in place already were maintained. I would expect that there would be norms for skill level, where everybody was expected to be the best at his job. I would also expect that there would be norms for performance and professionalism. This would cover everything from punctuality to conduct with other team members. There would be norms with communication, and there would also be norms with respect to the dedication level of the team members. I would expect that almost every aspect of team behavior would be governed by norms, as this is a highly-disciplined team.

It is possible to maintain and improve. While I would not be able to do this because I know nothing about pit crew operations, somebody else could improve. First, somebody familiar with how the crew works and its norms would be able to maintain the operation. Such an individual might even be able to improve, if they have their own ideas for improvements that would work within the pre-existing concept of the team. Changes that yield positive results can sometimes come without disruption. By having the willingness to keep the essential elements of the team's success but seek out new ideas that can build on what the team has done before, a leader can certainly deliver improvements to team performance.

High performance pit crews will have several features that distinguish them from regular pit crews. First, there will be a high level of skill with each member. Each function needs to be performed well, consistently. But a high level of individual skill will not necessarily result in a high-performing team; it is merely a precursor.

Discipline is a critical element. Pit crews work under demanding conditions,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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