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Nut Island Effect

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#1. Do the people at Nut Island represent a cohesive team?

The team from Nut Island had the potential to accomplish great things. They were a very cohesive team. Cohesiveness relates to the degree to which members are attracted to and motivated to remain part of that team. A cohesive group member values his or her membership and strives to maintain a positive relationship within the group. Every person working at Nut Island wanted to be there and would not let anything get in the way of their team.

When looking at only the cohesiveness of a team, Nut Island would be a good example. They worked together and enjoyed what they did at the sewage plant. Employees worked overtime without being paid for it and without complaining. They used everyone's skills to take care of the plant and the plant equipment.

#2. Is Nut Island an example of a successful team? Explain (a) why or why not and (b) the role team cohesiveness played.

(a.) The components of a good team should be considered. First, a high-performance team must have strong core values to guide attitudes and behavior consistent with the team's purpose. The members should know why the team is created and why he or she is on the team. Secondly, a team should have specific performance objectives. Members should know exactly what they are trying to accomplish. This also includes having standards for measuring results and ways of obtaining performance feedback. A good team will make members realize the importance of collective efforts. Third, a high-performance team has the right mix of skills. These involve technical, interpersonal, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. No one needs to know how to do it all, but each member should be able to contribute to the group. Lastly, these teams must possess creativity. Their creativity will help the organization face problems in the future and help in developing new ideas for products and services.

The team at Nut Island should be compared to the definition of a high-performance team. Nut Island team members had different skills. They were able to get along and work together. They really enjoyed working there even when they were up to their necks in sludge. Members worked together to keep equipment working. They found ways to keep the plant running after senior management stopped paying attention.

Nut Island employees formed a highly creative team also. When they ran out of chemicals they devised a plan to get more. Instead of calling management they asked nearby residents to complain about the odor coming from the plant. They would have a new supply of chemicals delivered to them a few days later.

With the next two high-performance team components, Nut Island begins to fall short. The team lacked a purpose and the values to make them stick to that purpose. The purpose of the team was to clean up the harbor. They were supposed to treat the sewage to make it safe to be dumped out in the harbor or to be turned into fertilizer. At some point the team's purpose changed. They grew concerned with avoiding management and continuing on their own. They still tried to do their job at the sewage plant, but their knew purpose got in the way. Because they avoided management and management avoided them, Nut Island did not have the supplies they needed and their equipment was failing. They continued with their jobs, but it was done incorrectly at times. Equipment gave the wrong readiness and they dumped in the wrong amount of chemicals to compensate. The sewage they were dumping out was destroying the harbor. Fertilizer companies rejected a lot of the sewage.

When looking at the job they performed, no, Nut Island was not successful. They had badly maintained equipment and no supplies. The team did not listen to test results or complaints about the plant. They also took it upon themselves to make repairs and deciding what amount of chemicals should be used. They worked together well though. They accomplished what they set out to do. Each member wanted to be part of that team, and they listened to each other and kept the team together. All of their efforts to stay cohesive did not matter because they were not doing the job they set out to do.

(b.) The employees at Nut Island formed a very cohesive group, but their cohesiveness contributed to their problems. They worked together and were able to all conform to a set of norms. This group though was following the wrong set of norms. A highly cohesive group following a negative set of performance norms has the least amount of success. They are working together but for the wrong cause.

The Nut Island team began following the wrong set of norms when they request for funds for maintenance on equipment was denied. They were told to "get rid of the dandelions." He was more worried about the outside appearance than the inner workings of the plant and what the employees had to deal with. The team began to feel isolated and was not able to trust others outside of their group. Later on the plant's four engines shut down. Management had refused to give them money to maintain the engines, and they were waiting for something to go wrong. This incident united the team even more around a common adversary - management. Their "enemy" should not have been people within their own company. The team lost sight of the goal they were supposed to perform and focused on doing everything themselves.

#3. Describe "groupthink" and use it to explain what happened at Nut Island.

Groupthink is the tendency of cohesive group members to lose their critical capabilities. Dr. Irving Janis identified this idea of groupthink. He believed members of very cohesive groups become unwilling to criticize because of the demand for conformity. Each person wants to be on that team and strives to keep everyone together and maintain good relationships. There is an overemphasis on agreement when groupthink takes place. When members become more concerned with agreement than completing their objectives, decision-making is affected. No one wants to be the one member that disagrees with the group. If one or two members agree with an idea, the rest of the group will also agree. Members begin to believe



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