As a group of four I.B.A. students, we have made the Group Observation Exercise for the subject Organizational Behaviour. In this exercise we have watched and discussed the teamwork that is performed in the reality television show “Deadliest Catch“, season 6, episode 13.
As a preparation for our first meeting, each of us selected two television shows in which teams perform a significant amount of teamwork. During our first meeting we discussed every suggestion each of our team members came up with. After we had chosen a suitable television show on a democratic way, we watched the television show together. While we watched the television show, we took notes of the team as a whole, the individual members of the team and the way these members interact with each other in the television show “Deadliest Catch”.
As a preparation for our second meeting, each team member of our group had worked out the individual part of the Group Observation Exercise (not included in this report). During this seconds meeting, we discussed our individual observations and formulated our answers on the “Group Discussion” questions. Finally, one of our team members worked out this Group Observation Exercise, which lies in front of you.
In this part of the report you can find the answers of our team on the questions of the “Group Discussion”.
Describe the “objective” features of the situation you observed: the team, its members, what they are trying to accomplish, and the environment they are operating in.
Answer question 1:
The team we have discussed is the crew of the boat the “Wizard”, one of the boats in the television show “Deadliest Catch”. The crew of this boat contains of five members, who work on the deck of the boat, and one captain. The goal of this team is to catch as much king crab as possible during the time their boat sails out. The boat this team sails on, is permanently on the water during a period of three weeks.
Since the whole team wants to catch as much king crab as possible, the team members work around sixteen to eighteen hours a day. The more king crab the team successes to catch, the more profit each member makes, since each team member gets a commission of the total amount of profit they make after three weeks of fishing. This team operates under extreme tough conditions such as temperatures of minus twenty degrees and the team members have very long workdays.
Provide a comparison of your team’s answers to the individual observation questions. How were your impressions similar? Where did your impressions differ?
Answer question 2:
To answer this question on a thorough and complete way, we have discussed the answers of each team member to each individual question. On most of the questions, we had the same thoughts.
We agreed that the team working on this ship was a close, harmoniously and hardworking one and had to perform under very tough conditions. We all thought that all the members of the team had the same goal of catching as much king crab as possible. We agreed that most of the members were mainly motivated by the amount of money they earn by catching as much king crab as possible. We also had a shared opinion about the way the team members interact with each other. The team members mostly have verbal communication wit each other but also, due to the physical labour they have to perform and the limited amount of space on the boat, have a limited amount of interpersonal space between them. We agreed that there are some unwritten rules, such as for interaction with the captain and the way the members work together.
We had some more discussion about the strengths and the weaknesses of this team. Some of us thought the biggest strength of this group was, that the group members were able to share their whole personal life with each other on a scanty boat. Some others of our team thought that the biggest strength of this group was that the members were able to work together as a team under very though conditions. Finally we all agreed about the weakness of this team, being that the members of the group do not discuss problems on a proper way. This leads to a lot of discussions, which negatively influence the team bound.
What evidence did your teammates use to form their initial impressions of the group, its members and the dynamics?
Answer question 3:
The evidence on which we based our initial impressions on, were the discussions between the team members, the way the members work together as a team, the way the team members live together on the boat and the way the members talked about each other.
Was there evidence of prejudice, discrimination, or the use of stereotypes in the show – either between group members, between groups depicted, or from other people on the show? Describe your observation.
Answer question 4:
As a team we noticed that there was a prejudice about the youngest group member of the team sailing on the Wizard. The older team members saw the young team member as being not able to coop with the though conditions, because of the boy his young age. There was also some discrimination about a Latin American fisher, working on another boat. The team members of the Wizard were making “jokes” about this person and the bad influence, they thought this person had on the performance of the other team.
As a team, outline the strengths and weaknesses of the group you observed. Provide evidence from your team’s observations to support these claims.
Answer question 5:
As described earlier in this report, we had some discussions about the strength of this group. We agreed that the biggest strength of this team is that there is a very good bond between all the team members of the team. The members of this team are able to work and live together under extreme tough conditions. Also for example, when the captain of the Wizard has to go to the hospital, all the team members come together and visit their captain every day.
The biggest weakness of this team is the bad communication between the members. One day for example, the team does not manage to catch one single king crab. This was due to the fact that one of the members did not close the cage, which they use to catch crab. This member thought that another team member had already closed the cages.
What would you argue was the observed group’s biggest weakness or problem? Please describe this problem and provide evidence from your observations.
Answer question 6.1:
As mentioned before, we agreed that the biggest weakness of this group is the bad communication between the group members. The one day the team was not able to catch one single king crab due to a misunderstanding between two members, illustrates this problem perfectly.
If your team was called in to improve the performance of the group you observed, what strategies would your team suggest on the basis of your team’s observations? (Include brainstorm list).
Answer question 6.2:
After a short brainstorm session we came up with some ideas to improve the performance of this team. This team could take some lessons in communication and interaction with each other or the captain could give the team members very precise job descriptions (to prevent misunderstandings like described earlier).
Which strategy do you think would be the best and why? Please describe this strategy in more detail.
Answer question 6.3:
Overall, we would advice the team sailing on the Wizard to have some short briefing or meeting every time they sail out. In this meeting, all the members can discuss what went well and what did not went well during the previous trip. During this meeting, they can also discus which person performs certain jobs.