The show we chose is Deadliest Catch Season 6 Episode 17. The show features different ships but the one we chose to focus on is the Wizard. This is a fishing ship that operates in the Bering Sea (considered to be one of the most dangerous seas in the world), near to Alaska. The crew of the ship is composed of five crew members and one captain. These people are closely working together in order to catch as many crabs as possible. During the mating season, which can last up to four months.
Our imporession as a group is that this group consists of brothers through thick and thin. They need to rely on each other due to the difficult and challenging work conditions both because of the environmental circumstances and also because of the difficulty of working on a ship together and all the risk it involves. In tough times they motivate each other.
Even though they all have a common goal, which is to fulfill the quota of crab in as fast as possible, every team member had personal reasons for attaining these goals. These personal reasons were caused by age, cultural and geographic background, and family situation.
The goal of the team is to catch as much crab as possible in a limited amount of time in order to gain the highest profit. Of course without endangering the health and life of their fellow crew members. A strong incentive to reach the goal is formed by the rule that the more the crab fishers catch the more money they will earn (extrinsic reward). Every individual differently responds to this incentive, since different people have a different level of satisfaction. In other words some people are sooner satisfied with a certain amount of money than others. Apart from the goal of making as much as money as possible, there is also a competition going on with four other boats. This competitive element stimulates the crew members too. Furthermore, they receive intrinsic rewards which motivates them like appraisal of the captain. They feel harmony because of their common feelings like missing their families back home and the tiredness.
All members of our group observed that at some point discussions might appear about the best way of doing certain things. On the ship, for example old crew members who have been doing this for a long time are used to a more traditional way of fishing, much more manual than the way you can do it novadays while the younger members of the crew are more used to work alongside with new techniques and technology. However this situation doesn’t split up the group since the goal is so strong and works like glue.
First of all, the captain is in charge an decides what’s going to happen and the staff has to obey. The crew of the ship is formed entirely by men who come from a lower environment therefore we can appreciate that the language they use to address each other is not always the most polite (they curse a lot). Since they live on a limited space, they share everything together from meals to free time.
The strenghts of this group consist of several elements. Apart from the fact that they have the same goal, they also put the SAME effort in the job. Besides, they believe in the group and have confidence in a nice outcome. As one team member put it “I’m sure we will be back early this season”. In addition, the members excel in motivation and determination. As team members return the year after most of the time, they have gained a lot of experience.
Later on, we will discuss the weaknesses in more detail.
The overall impression that the members of our group had about this team were in line with each other. We realized that female members of our group tend to focus more on the emotional elements while the male members tend to focus more on the need of success, achievement and effort.
Our observation group supported their findings by quotations of the crew members and also the (inter)actions. Also by looking at the kind of procedures they have to do their job we realize that they need to be very organized and work together.
We as a team found, for example that there are no black crew members nor female. And even though it is not portrayed on the show we wonder whether it has something to do with the selection procedure. We can also say that the crew members fill in the classic stereotype of bluecollar workers. This stereotype involves low education, rude language, physically strong and handy.
As mentioned above, we will now discuss the weaknesses in more detail. One weakness is that the group entirely consists of men who miss their wives and/or children which makes them touchy and irratible. Female members would make the group more creative and in balance. The crew is under a great amount of stress to fulfill the conract they have and this can lead to hasten decisions, frustrations that can lead to arguements.
The biggest weakness our group found relates to the fact that the organizational structure is flat. This means that all the deckhands are on the same level and they are all managed by one person namely the captain who is in charge of all the decision making. This results in a lack of involvement (in decision making), participation and commitment of the deckhands. Hence there is no actual opportunity for them to go up in the organization. We observed in this episode that when it comes to decision making the captain doesn’t ask the crew for their opinion and expects them to obey his orders without questioning them.
Some ideas that might help improving this organization:
- Add female or multicultural members
- Empower the crew members to make decisions
- More feedback from the captain to the crew members and also the other way around
From all these ideas we as a group think that empowerment would be the best strategy to promote the active participation of the crew in important decision making.