Today, as I was busy doing my work, minding my business and sipping my water – from a KOR Water Bottle
brand placement much, a very random thought crossed my mind, campus days! Not the fun times we had, because we had a lot of those – I treasure my campus mates for that experience. I’m talking about the tough times. The ones that make you wonder why you were studying what you were studying in the first place. I did Business IT in my undergraduate and there are some really difficult and unnecessary courses we did – ethics, computer graphics, programming, business accounts … it’s a long list, those are just a few of which I can remember as I write.
The tough times, really, were managing groups and the complications that come with being in a group. From the selecting members that will be in your group, availability of those group members, handling the assignments, the art of utilizing everyone’s strength within the groups and equally identifying their weakness – because that could be what takes you down, overcoming the group mentality and the solidarity in results.
Selecting group members
This must’ve been the lectures favorite part on the first day of the semester, “now get into groups which you’ll maintain for the rest of the semester.” It must also have been the students’ worst part, because woe unto you if you land into a group you don’t dig or don’t get along with the members. One has to be smart about the people they select to be in their group (if given the choice), else the struggle becomes real. Sometimes you realize you’d rather not select a group based solely on friendship – same concept with business.
Availability of those group members
So you have the group, good stuff. You have a plan as to when you’ll meet, but there’s a conflict of interest. Others are not available, others are not willing to sacrifice a little good time to attend a boring group meetings about assignments. Sucks when you have a group of 6 but only 2 or 3 are available – at all times. It’s very non-progressive.
Handling the assignments
So the 2/3 who meet decide, “Let’s peruse through the assignment and assign each group member a part”. I mean, their contribution is necessary, if not mandatory. You send the assignment and responsibilities to each member and give a “deadline” preferably a few days before due date so that you can work on the correction and formatting. Sounds perfect huh?
Art of utilizing everyone’s strength within the groups and equally identifying their weakness
Very important. When you’re in a group, you need to accept the fact that everyone is not the same, we’re absolutely different. Sometimes you might think, “If I can do this, why can’t he/she do this? “ Well, because he/she is not you honey. This is a tough lessons that many can attest to. If you’re not good at it, you’re just not good at it. Chances are that someone else is, why not support this person.
For example, we had a programming course, most of us loathed it. I know loath is a strong term, but that best explains our emotions towards that course. Unfortunately, it was a compulsory course. The lecturer happily gets us into groups of 6 and we’re assigned a project. The projects involved designing, developing and presenting a system. Presenting it to him the same way you would a client – including the manual.
Remember the part we loathe programming, that was 3 ½ of the group members. One (Valentine Wambui) loved it and she was the IT girl when it came to coding. The ½ (must’ve been Christine Were or Jean Opiyo) liked coding but wasn’t really good at it. The rest (Janice Muringo, Julia Wanjiru and I), don’t mention coding. Well, coding was just a part of the project, albeit being very important. For the project to happen – we needed to come up with the concept, design the interfaces and the database, code the system to being and then document the manual. Some parts like designing and developing the concept, interfaces and databases, you have to sit and do together – like one big happy family, that we did. However, someone had to take responsibility for each part, to make sure it’s done & well inputted or recorded. I love documenting, so if memory serves me right, I must’ve done the manual.
That’s the one time I saw the power of group work, because we aced that project – it was a Wardrobe Management System. Plus I had so much fun working with them and see the project materialize. I don’t know what happened to it, because that was way back in 2006/2007, when we used diskettes for storage.
Perfect not! When everyone in their mind decides, “Someone will definitely do it!” Who’s that someone? Considering everyone in the group has a name. Once you overcome this mentality, chances are that you’ll thrive. Put a name on it. Have a group leader and let them distribute the work load based on who does what best and what can be done together.
For instance, we had a naughty group member who never participated or contributed towards any group assignments, but on the d-day always appeared concerned. So after bitching A LOT, we (Thuku Ndung’u or Rodney Senga, seconded by the rest of us) decided for that semester, he would contribute to printing and binding of the assignment, and any photocopies we would need during presentations – that stuff was expensive – given that it was campus with our ever eluding little pocket-money. He was moneyed, identifying strengths, no?
Solidarity in results
Whether you participated in the group assignments/activities, or not – you all get the same results. If it’s an A – y’all get an A, if it’s a C – y’all get a C. Unless you rat someone out, the lecturer looks at the group as 1, not as 5 or 10. When in a group, you’re fully responsible or in change of your group members’ success, and your participation is what will let them prosper.
Today, I am thankful for that throw back, because it has just made me realize that for the rest of your life, you deal with groups – whether it’s at home or at work. And campus was the best stage of life to learn that important lesson, because it’s brings into perspective the saying, “Man is not an island.”
Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*