31 March, 2010

Group woes

Dear readers, i beg your indulgence. This is the first post i've chosen to make that adresses not the grand everyday discoveries of a timid traveler, but the inner battles and frustrations of a flawed human - in hopes that you can lend a certain insight. Please see "comment" below the post...really.

One of the reasons chose to take an Organizational Behavior class was the fact that i commonly find myself in groups, taking a leadership role - but i have few real leadership skills. And somehow the passion and motivation i brought to the group unfailingly fizzles.

In this class' term project - which is a "team" project - i am perhaps the most motivated group member besides the girl who invited me to join. However, my urging the group to invest even the slightest effort into the project seems to be in vain. Take for example the repeated suggestion that a textbook chapter be read before writing interview questions - or attempting to rewrite questions - so that a basic connection can be established between our research agenda and  the theories described in the text. Six weeks later, they have yet to read the chapter.

My motivation stems from a sense of pride in accomplishment. It is the founding motivation i bring to any project, until the force of frustration within a given project - particularly frustration with a lack of collaborative effort - wears it out.

Take for example the great opportunity i had working with an agricultural researcher making videos to document for the public his research on the Weedmaster, a new tool for small farmers. Weeks after we shot the videos, they were mostly edited - the biggest missing piece was a bit of discourse on the data we had gathered, something my professor said he wanted to add, and narration, which we had both agreed would work best if his was the narrating voice. With other priorities on his plate, finding the time to work together, or to procure images of the Weedmaster's inventor which i had requested long before, never happened. Without the material i needed to finish the project, the longer i waited, the less i was motivated. (Eric, if you read this, please note i accept full responsibility for my own failure to follow through; i'm just describing how the perceptual experience of frustration dampens any momentum i started with.)

A similar problem occured when i accompanied another researcher on a trip to Quebec. When i expressed that, as a videographer and editor, what i needed to produce good quality clips of the trip would be focused sound bytes in interview format, she promised to assist me in taking workshop participants aside and interviewing them. When we returned from Quebec, however, 90% of the footage i had was simply of our hosts talking at the group, impossible to tell a story with, useful mainly for archival purposes. Trying to find useful footage, i fell asleep in front of the monitor. The project remained unfinished when i left for Turkiye, and i fear in disappointing these two researchers - professors, employers, and friends - i may have injured a very good and promising working relationship.

I am at a loss with how to work in such situations. Sure, it's easy to say "knuckle down and make the best of it". But in the case of this OB term project, if the group doesn't come to meetings prepared, why should i lose sleep? Though the term project is over thirty percent of the course grade, all that will show up on my UMaine transcript is a pass or fail - and i only need six credits to graduate. I can afford to fail, academically speaking; it won't hurt me a bit. I could back out of the project completely, in fact. The only thing i will lose - and the thing that matters most - is the opportunity to grow through it. Dammit, why do the things that matter most to me always have to be the ones that don't matter on the balance sheet or the transcript?

See, what i really want right now is to explore Turkiye, not to fight personal-growth inner battles that express themselves as disputes with unmotivated classmates.

Once again, readers, i welcome your insight and lemonade recipes.