1. The reality show our group watched is “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior” episode six of season one. In this show two groups are featured, namely Paul Senior’s company, called Orange County Choppers, and Paul Junior’s company, called Paul Jr. Designs. We decided to observe Paul Junior’s group as there was more footage on their behaviour during the work process.
The team in this episode consists of four members: Paul Junior, Vinnie, Joe and Lee/Brandon. There is a clear hierarchy in the group but the owner Paul Junior is a true part of the team as he operates together with them. The two most important members in this episode are Paul Junior and Vinnie, they seem to be the backbone of the group. Paul’s brother Mikey is always around the workshop but he isn’t actively participating in achieving the team’s goal, which is why we exclude him from the main team. Member Joe was absent during the main part of the production process although he is an active team member. The fourth member is made up of whomever they can get in touch with, who is willing to sell his qualities, and they have had a good experience with. At first this fourth member is Lee, but later on he will be replaced by Brandon. None of the team members is specialised in a certain part of the production process except for Brandon who is solely hired for a specific part of the production process. This describes the building of custom build theme choppers for random clients, and in this case within the tight deadline of one single week. The environment they operate in, is the workshop of Paul Jr. Designs© which is a large factory hall fully equipped for building custom choppers. All machinery is present and up to date.
3. We used the footage of this episode whereas some of the team members have seen more material and may have been influenced by that. We watched the episode in the perspective of the exercise, so tried to stay objective.
4. There was one very specific stereotype: Paul explained why Brandon is good, and he simply answered: “he’s a professional”. With that he implicates that every professional delivers good work. Secondly Mikey isn’t taken seriously due to past experiences, where he seemed to just joke around. Although he is not an official member, this occurred during the show and we consider it as a form of discrimination.
5. Some of the strengths of the group are their dedication and passion, which we all agreed on and is mentioned in our observations nearly in every point. Another strength is companionship and a clear common goal, which came forward very strongly in the footage. This goal is to finish the chopper in time, which also provides a challenge. The team likes to take on a challenge which is quite a strength in a demanding situation. The last strength is that all members seem to be emotionally connected to the final product. Yet there are also several weaknesses, which, by the way, we did not all agree upon. Some of us think that the internal organisation of the team does not work and is not effective: there is a clear lack of structure. Besides we disagree on the atmosphere in the team, as one of us thinks it is rather tense and the others consider it friendly. However, we do agree on the fact that the team is one fixed member short which clearly weakens the team and that there is a different level of motivation due to that lack as the temporary member will never be as motivated as the rest of the group.
a) The biggest weakness of the team is the time pressure, they are hardly able to make the deadline with the fixed team. This is caused by several reasons of which an example is their poor structured organization.
b) Strategy 1: The team should use a time table with a set of smaller deadlines and in that fashion work its way towards the final deadline. This time table should also contain the amount of hours necessary to complete the final product and a division of the hours per day and per member of the team.
Strategy 2: While designing the bike they should adapt a forward planning policy. This means that they analyse what materials they need to order at their suppliers and place those orders right away instead of procrastinating it until they suddenly bump into a missing part, which will delay the building process. These measures will increase their efficiency resulting in a decrease of time pressure.
Strategy 3: There should be a clear delegation of tasks from the beginning of the production process in order to make everyone work effectively towards the common goal, make planning easier and improve teamwork.
c) We think that the third strategy will be the best to improve the company’s results. First of all because when tasks are delegated at the beginning instead of along the way they will not have to bring in a fourth team member. So this strategy also solves the problem of the lack of motivation of the fourth member and the possibility he will not work as hard as the rest of the group. Besides the manager will know at each given time what his employees are working on and in turn the employees know what to do at all times and when they finish one task can immediately start on the next. Thus this also improves the internal organisation and the lack of structure in the working process. Eventually all things causing the extreme time pressure will be resolved as one can now work more efficiently, keep a time margin in case something goes wrong and have a structured working environment.