Collaboration vs Group Work

The most difficult thing about the first month and a half of ITP has been group work.

Note however that I use the word “Group Work” differently from the term “Collaboration”. Group work can be collaborative at it’s very best, but group work is more difficult than the free choosing of partners because strangers are paired together with abilities, temperaments and personality quirks that may or may not match.

If collaboration is dating, group work is the blind dating.

In the world of international diplomacy and government policy, when I was forced in work in a group in the past, typically the work is so delineated and already defined that there is little struggle on creative vision. But where there is the question of creative vision, it is usually the manager that acts at the ultimate arbiter. This is why there is typically a designated team lead.

Which is why the applications groupings were so uncomfortable. So uncomfortable… yet interesting and thought-provoking. Because of the imbalances within the group between age, temperment, worldviews and attributes of the different individuals I was often surprised at the direction the workflow would take. The necessity of doing something together with people you disagree with: it is a make or break thing. But I am constantly surprised what it makes. While I believe it makes something lesser to what a collaborative group makes in content, it works out mental muscles that could be better off for everyone in the long run.

It led me to think that maybe group work was ironically like travelling solo: when it sucks it really sucks, but when it’s great its really great.

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