The Crazy8 Chronicles — The Best Group I've Ever Been In
All internship long, I’ve been working on a final project for the agency with three other interns. We’ve been working on developing big ideas for new business pitches for a couple of big time multinational companies.
First off, it’s a phenomenal project topic. Working on new business pitches is about as “agency” as it gets. We need to go through research, find where the company is strong and weak, develop consumer insights, create a list of tons of ideas and then connect this huge list of ideas and refine the list to a few really great ideas. If our insights are correct and our ideas are great, two things could happen: 1.) in the final week we will be able to actually deliver the pitches to the companies and 2.) Our ideas may find themselves in future agency pitches as EP goes after the business. I think we have some good stuff, and one of our ideas has gotten a huge amount of praise from a couple of big wigs here–it just might get implemented sooner rather than later.
Second, my intern team is functioning on another level. It’s something I’m really not used to. I will say, Babson really works hard to get its students exposed to working in a group and collaborating. With that said, you learn as much about working with groups from Babson as you learn about how to not work with groups.
I’ve been on many a group where me and one other person were forced to do all of the work for a five person team, I’ve been on many a group where 60% of my groupmates were non-existent the night before the project was due, I’ve been on many a group where splitting up the sections of the work resulted in a jumble of different quality work that required a lot of work to make it cohesive and consistent. Admittedly, i’ve been on some good groups at Babson but a large amount have been pretty tough to manage,
The team I’m on isn’t like that at all. All of my teammates work hard to try and go above and beyond the call of duty–I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve opened up my e-mail to a brilliant document or piece of creative work that came out of their own initiative and their own drive to support the team.
The Babson writing center talks about two architectures you can give to a team.
1. You can split the team up by section of the project. This means that one person takes the “finance” section, two people take the “marketing” section and two take the “microeconomics” section. Everyone writes their individual sections, turns it in, and then try to put it together. They typically don’t like this. Someone in the group gets stuck with trying to re-write it all and fill in the gaps the night before–so they had to contribute in the early stages and they also get burdened the night before too.
2. You can split the team up by task. This means that if one person is really good at writing a cohesive paper, they are given that responsibility. Since writing a full paper can be difficult and time-consuming, they usually don’t have to do stuff in the early stages and their main responsibility is in the final couple of nights. Another task would be researchers–people who are great at going through, collecting information, sifting through it, and giving a short summary of it all. You also have people who are creative–they may be responsible for developing the presentation or any tables and graphs for a paper. You get the idea.
The writing center says this is a preferred method, since everyone is really playing to their own personal strengths. A great researcher that isn’t that great at writing isn’t forced to write a huge section of a 15-page paper. The best writer isn’t going to have to do hours of research and also hours of writing.
For any Babson readers of this post, I think most of you have probably exclusively had projects broken down by section–it’s kind of the norm for Babson projects. I’m here to personally advocate for breaking up by task and my intern group project has really shown the strength in this method. Each of us is doing tasks that really play to our individual strengths, and what we’re getting is a really high-functioning team that’s producing great results.
Carefully defined roles equal success, who would’ve known. Give it a try.
Ross Andrew Simons