07. What Can Go Wrong?
Groups in organisations can take many different forms - project teams, production teams, committees, quality circles, statistical process control teams, working groups, to name only a few. Whatever they are called, they often frustrate and confuse their members. One of the oldest jokes about groups is that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.
Organisations large and small are full of people who hate working in groups because groups are invariably confused, frustrating and inefficient. They are also threatening and stressful, or at least potentially so.
This attitude is common in small organisations, where much of the achievement has been directly linked to the effort of one person. Small organisations can reflect this 'single person' culture. Yet, as we have seen, groups have obvious advantages over individuals. They are more diverse, have greater knowledge, and more time and energy. Groups can be a good way of improving communication. Nevertheless, groups can over-respond to social pressures or individual domination, and personal goals can frustrate group purposes. As well as being productive, inducing commitment, developing people and creating excitement, groups can create stagnation, imprison people, induce conformity and leave people feeling frustrated, worthless and unproductive.