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The Complexities Of Collaboration

We kick off every Saturday with a rousing 3-hour session on Leading Collaboration with Professor Leslie DeChurch. The class gets progressively better every week, with a commendable ability to keep us on our toes throughout.

We begin with a segment called the Teams in the News where students are invited to find real-life examples of team collaborations and a select few are chosen to talk about it to the class. The variety of examples that come through each week illustrate how different people would define a team. While a sports team would be the obvious example, teams also form around political candidates in an election—something that is often not focused on in the media. On a side note, the breadth of news articles that the class produces also reflects a variety of reading interests which ties back into how diverse the class is.

Following this, Professor DeChurch will introduce us to a new concept of collaboration.  The sheer complexity of teamwork is fascinating. It is a give-and-take, push-and-pull of different personalities and different dynamics. For example, this past week, we learned about Mixed-Motive teams where members need to balance their self-interest against the better good of the team. That old saying “There is no I in Team” is brutally dissected in the face of such concepts. Teamwork is defined so differently than in the conventional sense. It’s observation, data, and psychology all woven together to produce the best possible result.

Then, it’s down to application. Professor DeChurch teams students up on a random basis and the class dives into a team activity that aligns with the concept we have learned. The team activities hit three birds with one stone: you get to work alongside different members of the cohort every week; you understand how your personality and behaviour adapts to different tasks and different team dynamics; and, you apply a concept in the simplest possible way while having fun and learning something new in the process.

The class ends with a thorough debrief of the exercise where we see how our team performed relative to the others and areas in which we could have improved.  And before you know it, it’s lunchtime. And that’s the beauty of the class: It successfully challenges the passiveness that sets in early in the morning and that keeps us afloat for most of the day.

Madhurya Manohar

MSC Class of 2017