1)For this exercise we chose the MTV show “Real World Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet III”. This is a reality game show that features two mixed gender teams who compete for a cash prize that will be split between the members of the winning team at the end of the season. We consider the goal that the team is following to be that of most possible players winning the final challenge. The competition featured throughout this 10 episodes season of the real world road rules challenge show is rather complex. There are usually 2 “challenges”, mini-games in each episode concluding in a Gauntlet elimination round in which 2 members of the loosing team, one selected by the team itself another chosen by the winners, compete for remaining in the game. This process makes the show very interesting since the loss of a team member results in a greater percentage of the cash prize for the remaining members of the team. The result of this is a situation in which winning the Challenge is not always the desired outcome for team members who are convinced they would have better chances to win a greater prize in the final if they “lose the dead weight” in the challenges. Due to the entertainment focused nature of the show which also features footage of the teams spending free time outside of the games one can attain the insight that personal objectives of individuals are often pursuit with equal if not higher priority than team goals. Since the two opposing teams consist of ‘’Rookies’’, who are taking part in the Real World Road Rules Challenge for the first time and a team of ‘’Veterans’’ who have partaken 2 or more times, we have chosen to observe the team of veterans since we expect them to be more competitive within their own group and extremely determined since they understand the show and its dynamics more.
2) Comparison of initial impressions
We compared our answers to the individual observation questions and discovered that we all had a very similar impression of the group. The ‘Veterans’ seem to not work together well as a team and the atmosphere within the group is negative, even hostile, at times. As Coral and Katie find out that their team members turned against them, there is a tension within the entire group. There is no trust between team members and all of us noticed that the ‘Veterans’ are lacking team spirit. We did, however, all observe that team members are highly motivated and confident to win the challenges against their competitors the ‘Rookies’. Overall, we agreed that the ‘Veterans’ left a very negative impression on us.
To form our initial impressions of the group, we all looked at team members individually as well as how they interact as a group. We noticed that there was little communication among team members. Especially weaker team members seemed to be under a lot of stress and pressure to perform well and were more emotional. The overall negative impression of the group was largely caused by the high level of selfishness that some team members displayed. During the first challenge, CT purposely falls off the plank and thereby causes his team to lose. He hopes to send one his weak team members into the Gauntlet in order to get rid of her. His individual goal is to make the ‘Veterans’ a smaller yet stronger group. He puts his individual goal above the collective goal of winning the challenge.
Furthermore, there are alliances formed within the group. These smaller subgroups weaken the team as a whole. Stronger team members come together and plan to get rid of weaker team members because they believe it is better for the team to drop the weakest link. As Coral and Katie, the two weakest team members, find out about the alliance, they feel singled out and targeted.
We also observed that there is no sign of a natural leader in the group and that they have difficulties making decisions. The ‘Rookies’, the team the ‘Veterans’ have to compete against, are a smaller group and it is very obvious that Frank is the leader and makes major decisions.
The ‘Veterans’ seemed very confident to win as they repeatedly stressed to be the stronger team.
We did, however, also find evidence that shows that some team members do work well together. As Coral quits and decides to leave the team, Casey volunteers to go into the Gauntlet and compete against Ev. In the Gauntlet challenge, Ev purposely loses one round in order to make Casey feel better, even though Casey finally loses the challenge and has to leave the show.
4) As we observed the show there were clearly forms of prejudice and discrimination. This was especially the case in the team of the ‘’Veterans’’. This team consisted of 12 team members of which 4 men and 8 women. According to the men (and one woman) in this team there are to many women in the team which supposedly makes the team weaker. Besides this other woman , the rest of the females in the team are seen as less capable of winning challenges. Their strategy is thus to get rid of one of their women which means purposely losing a challenge against the ‘’Rookies’’ so that one of the women in the Veterans team has to leave. There is thus discrimination and prejudice against the woman.
5)What distinguishes the veterans from the rookies is their greater experience which they have gathered throughout previous seasons featuring similar if not the same game model. This experience gives the veterans insight into how to win the challenges providing them an advantage over the rookies. This situation is very confidence inspiring for the veterans giving the veterans a further advantage. The veterans confidence in combination with their experience should make them unbeatable for the rookies, however this advantage give the veterans time to focus on other aspects of the game. Since the veterans are no longer occupied with figuring out the game and the challenges they spend a majority of their time thinking about how they personally can get the biggest gain from this show. This is the root of all the veterans’ weaknesses. Since certain members of the veteran’s team scheme to get the greatest cut of the prize there is often very low moral, no clear plan of action and arguably no team. In our particular episode this resulted in one member of the veterans leaving the team due to some members purposely loosing a challenge in order to eliminate a team member. Another disadvantage presented by this is that there is no coherency in plan and action, two basic attributes of a team that if missing can cause severe disarray, in this scenario resulting in losing a challenge. The veterans egocentrically behaviour can also provoke the creation of smaller sub-teams within the veteran team, possibly consisting of a core who aims to eliminate the peripheral part-takers giving them yet another disadvantage.
When developing strategies enhancing the teamwork of the veteran team, we have to keep in mind the main weakness of the team. As discussed above we believe the team has some serious problems in terms of teamwork, collaboration and team spirit. After discussing these weaknesses we can conclude that the group misses essential cohesion between the individual group members. Within the group there are several cliques discussing ways to influence the group’s aim and decisions. As seen in the episode, the males in the team try to force a female gauntlet in order to lose one of their female teammates believing this will improve their chances of winning the final.
At first this move seems stereotypical and discriminative. However, the show indicates the disadvantage of having too many people in your team. The rookie team has significant advantage in several assignments. However, the plan from the male team-members to get rid of a female team-member has met some heavy resistance from their female competitors Coral and Katie. They felt betrayed by their friends and team-members. They were dissatisfied and angry that this decision was made behind their back and that they had no influence on the decision making process. Eventually Coral left the competition and by the end of the episode, Katie has sworn to take revenge.
So how could this decision-making process improve? We have composed several solutions for this problem. Firstly, as discussed we believe the team lacks natural leadership. Secondly we would recommend the group to discuss and debate on group decisions. In order to avoid future conflict and tension within the group, it could be beneficial to collectively map out the team’s goals and strategies based on discussion and consensus. It is especially important because active participation of each member is necessary in order to win the grand final. If Coral and Katie were included in the decision-making process, it could have enhanced team-spirit and cohesion. They could have considered the option of a female gauntlet, sacrificing themselves for the eventual goal of the group.