While building teams and managing group work, the question comes in: What is the best format for the group to maximize its productivity? To assign tasks individually or to get the whole group working on the same task at the same time.
I asked myself this recently while working with a fabulous group of AIESEC Interns who were working on researching and building a database from various sources among some other diverse tasks.
It’s often believed that especially with tasks that has to do with generating ideas and strategies group work is the best format and that by working in groups the productivity of each individual within the group is maximized.
I had some serious doubts about that and The Social Psychology course I’m having on Coursera has just confirmed that. Actually, social psychology research found out that nominal groups – groups where each individual tackles the task on their own – outperforms interactive brainstorming groups.
Small groups generate only about half as many solutions as the same number of people working alone.
Production blocking refers to a loss in productivity from one group member talking and others being blocked from talking or developing their own ideas.
Though, sharing ideas is always positive and working directly with a group might generate more momentum, it’s advised to alternate the format of the working groups you manage between nominal format, where everyone works a lone and interactive groups, where everyone works together.
Starting with interactive group?
Starting with an interactive group might initially block some really good ideas and set the pace and format of all the work to be produced. So, it might seem better to start with an initial stage where everyone works on their own – nominal format – following with an interactive group, or call it team meeting and then everyone goes back to working on the tasks alone.
From your experience, which do you think is the best format for group work and does it differ from the nature of work being done? How?