Observed group: ‘Galu’ (blue group)
The series ‘Survivor‘ is based on 20 individuals trying to survive on an uninhabited tropical island. The individuals have to find their own food on the island and have to create any comfort, for instance fire or a tent. Clean water is in unlimited supply and in case of medical emergency, medical staff can act quickly. Every episode one or more individuals are sent away on the base of voting. The main goal for the individuals is to reach the final and win the show. In the first episodes, the individuals are separated in two teams. Every team has its own island.
Every episode presents a new challenge; with this challenge, which lasts for only a part of one episode, the teams can win a prize that is beneficial for every individual in the team. The team that wins the challenge does not have to vote a team member away at the end of the episode.
2)Comparison of the Team’s Answers
We did not have large disagreements. Our answers to the individual observations questions are in general quite similar. However, in the discussion we had after we made the individual and some ideas were presented that others did not think of. We will now present the in general answers with the individual add-ons, in case there was one.
The blue team looks like a close group with everyone willing to help and a strong leader. We also noticed the blue group being almost twice the size of the competitive group. The basis of this impression is the group line-up by the first challenge which is the first time the blue group as a whole is shown.
At first, we all noticed that many of the team members of the blue group were hardly part of this episode. Of the nine blue group team members, we were only able to make notes on four of them. Therefore, we will not write down an impression for the team members John, Kelly, Brett, Dave and Erik, since we did not have any.
Our impressions of the other team members are the followings:
- Russell: He is the strong team leader, who is keeping the group together. He is also much respected because of his will to work for the group. This impression is based on the group challenge, in which he says he is feeling very weak, but wants to participate for the benefit of the team. Later on in the challenge, he passes out twice, causing the challenge to be stopped and he being sent home because of medical reasons.
- Monica: She is quite lazy, does not show any initiative and is in general (also called by her team members) not an advantage for the group.
- Shambo: She is older than most of the other women, quite competitive since she is actively asking others to not vote her out and willing to work for the group. This is based on her little conflict with the other women, in which she asked them to not vote for her.
- Laura: She was shortly mentioned as being the best friend of Monica.
The main goal of the team for this episode was to win the challenge, which would reward the team with the opportunity to eat pizza while watching the other group voting a team member out. We considered this an important point, however could not agree to which extent this was the most important goal of this team. Some of our group members argued that not the pizza but reaching the final was the goal of the team. However, others argued that this could not be a goal of the team, since only three individuals can reach the final, and the team consisted of nine individuals, therefore this goal could not be reached with a team. Another team goal was preventing to have to vote a member out at the end of the episode. This could be accomplished by winning the challenge.
We agreed that the collective goal, winning the challenge and being able to eat pizza while the other team had to vote someone out, was beneficial for all of the members. However, we argued about if it was more beneficial for some members than for others, since some group members like Russell were in high regard and unlikely to be voted away, there he did not have to win the challenge to ensure his stay in the show.
We did agree that the team objective is not the only motivating factor but winning the show is another motivating factor.
The producers of the show decided that this people had to form a group, the group members did not decide this themselves. We agreed that the things they have in common are:
- They all wanted to participate in the show
- They are all in the same miserable positions on an island with limited food supply
- They will not succeed without each other’s help.
However, there are also differences. We agreed on differences in gender and age.
Since all of the team members were from the United States, the nationality or language was not a difference. We argued that a ‘goal’ was a something they had in common or a difference; one of our team members thought it was a difference because some of the individuals in ‘Survivor’ did not participate with the goal of winning but just wanted to test themselves in such condition or even just to have their ‘moment of fame’. The other two members however argued that every participating individual would like to win the series, therefore goal being something in common.
The commonality of being with a limited food supply resulted in all members looking for food. However, this presented us with the difference in gender; the men did most of the hunting and fishing, while the women searched for fruits. Another example of this difference, and of the difference in age, was the men’s plot to vote out Monica, a young woman, to weaken the female part of the team, since all the young women were friends.
The interactions were based on a friendly relationship, however, people liked to have their distances. Not everyone trusts each other. The talks about the plans to vote out a certain member are the best examples.
We argued about the rules of interaction and came to the conclusion that members did not touch each other and tried to avoid being to direct. When this rule was broken by Monica, this resulted in an emotional debate with Shambo. Shambo lost respect of the younger female group after that debate.
Before mentioning some strengths and weaknesses, it must be said that in part number 5, we will discuss this topic in more detail for which reason we do not want to recur. Here, you find the most obvious ones.
The first strength is the willing of the group to perform well. On the other hand, one weakness is the group getting divided, which becomes worse when the group leader, Russell, has to leave the team because of health problems.
3) Evidence for Initial Impression
Our impressions were mostly based on the behaviors of the members of the group and the way the group was interacting with each other. We all agreed for example that Russell was a good leader because he really putted effort in doing everything for his team. We especially saw this when Russell was trying to make a fire in order to make the group warm in the pouring rain. We also agreed that this was a close group, which we could definitely see after Russell´s incident. The members of the group showed companionship and cared about Russell´s health.
4) Evidence of Prejudice and Discrimination
There wasn´t really prejudice or discrimination in this episode but we think that´s because this has already been a team for a couple of weeks. The team already know each other so there weren´t many prejudices or discrimination to see. Maybe you can say there is a use of stereotype. We based that on the team task where one person had to go into a cage and had to direct four other members who had to pull this cage to the right direction while they were blind folded. This team putted a woman in the cage and four men who pulled the cage. You can say they have a picture of the ´strong´ man in their mind and the ´ordinate´ woman.
5) Strengths & Weaknesses
Strengths: One of the strengths of this group was that they really care about each other. We could definitely see that after Russell’s incident. Everybody was shocked about the health situation he was in and worried what was going to happen to him. This care creates a group spirit and even makes a group closer.
Another strength of this group was their motivation. We could see that at the team task. The goal of this task is to win with your team, in order to win the price: pizza. Because of this common goal everybody is equally motivated and hungry to win. The team members are encouraging each other by yelling and giving their members a helping hand during the task (which was to be seen when Russell started to be exhausted and hardly couldn’t go any further).
Weaknesses: One of the weaknesses of this group was that the women were a bit lazy, especially Monica. The women didn’t put as much effort in everything like the men did. The result for Monica is that the men want to vote her out on the next elimination round because she adds no value to the group.
A bigger weakness is that the leader blacked out at the task, what resulted in to be excluded from the show. Now you could see that the group was really dependent on his leader because after this incident they were unorganized and didn’t know their place in their team anymore.
6) Based on the Course and Question 5
a) Biggest Weakness
As mentioned in question number 5, Russell execution through his physical black out hit the team very hard. When he fell to ground and was helped by the medical service after, you really could see the nervousness in those faces of the team members. Furthermore, the worrying discussions afterwards underline this weakness. Finally, at the end of the episode, Shambo expresses in the name of the group the feeling about the loss of Russell (“I felt really sad that’s how he went out because you see this guy with this amazing heart and spirit, bigger than life. I mean, it’s terribly sad”). So, this could be named as the biggest weakness of the team caused by an incident.
b) Improving the Performance
The following ideas were brainstormed during the group discussion:
- Motivation of members by division of tasks within all members
- Voting of a new leader
- More responsibility for the women
- Better communication by having discussion meetings
The best strategy to improve the performance of the team would be the idea of voting a new leader. The leader has to be chosen democratic so that the leader is accepted by all members of the team. This is very important for the authority of the leader. This strategy would cause a new hierarchy in the team which might improve the performance by having a better and more efficient decision-making process. As learned in the course, leadership management improves the performance of organizations. This fact is applied to this strategy.