When trying to think of failed group projects, I am immediately drawn to a few notable instances in my undergraduate career that did not go swimmingly by any stretch of the imagination. In particular, there was a group project in the early stages of one of my undergraduate classes that was doomed from the onset. Beyond the palpable dread amongst the group I was assigned to, there was a lack of accountability or unified vision. Each member had their own idea of their role in working towards an eventual presentation to the class. There was a clash between two different individuals who assumed the role of project manager, but did not make a concerted effort to seek or value input from all of the team members. While there was a drive towards creating a sufficient final product, there was lack of structure to the stages leading up towards curating the content. It is interesting to think about stakeholders in the context of a normal school group project that culminates with a presentation to a class. Ultimately, the goal was to both internally and externally facilitate critical thought towards the given topic.
Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton and Kramer (2008) explain that “success in this environment requires that the project manager and team members reach agreements about how they’ll work together to maximize everyone’s contribution and minimize wasted time and mistakes” (pg. 293). Even the specific subject matter escapes me at this point, which is likely indicative of our by-the-numbers approach that did not foster learning. If a singular project manager had assigned a specific and impactful role to each member that they were both adept at and passionate about, the members would be more engaged and invested in the project, which would have resulted in a more memorable and effective final presentation. Additionally, if an emphasis on communication had been established from the onset, a foundation for open interaction and feedback would have, in turn, been in tact for the duration of the project.
Portny, S., Mantel, S. J., Jr., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. (2008). Project Management: Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.