Your performance on the final project should reflect the culmination of everything you have learned and are applying in this course. In this project you will use the core principles of teamwork to work with other individuals on a research and presentation project, as well as find ways to get the products ready for submission—a task made harder by different time zones, work habits, and academic preparedness.  It will be up to team members to sort out how to divide the labor to complete the required products.  The final products will be assessed as the “capstone” event of the course.  Please note that this project requires high effort.  To earn an Exceeds, the team products must display perfect adherence to APA formatting, research, and communication standards.  Failure to contribute to the team project means a failure for the project and the course.  There is a single submission of Project 6—no resubmissions.  All team members receive the same grade.

Below are more details about this project. 

Project 6 – Work as a Team

  1. The objective of this project is to force students to read and follow the steps to completion—not individually, but as a team. 
  2. A reminder that in academia, case studies are written to relate a theory or concept to real-life situations.  For the team project, at a minimum, the concepts to be related to the case you will work on are leadership and teamwork
  3. Before you begin, please be sure to read the guidance on teamwork in Step 1.
  4. Review all 8 steps outlined for this project.
  5. Review the grading criteria for this project.
  6. You may use one of the cases shown in Step 3 or select another agreed-upon case.
  7. The questions in Step 5 are provided merely to help focus your research efforts on the concepts you will be analyzing in the case that you choose.  Do not answer those questions in your case study.
  8. Instead, in your papers, I will expect to see evidence that you have researched leadership and teamwork in general, and tie what you have learned to the case study you are preparing.  In other words, one cannot say that a certain leadership style or certain team practices is seen within an organization without first demonstrating in the paper what you know about these concepts.
Executive Summary and White PaperUse Microsoft Word.Provide a title page with the team’s group number and all team members’ names, plus other title page information.Write a 1-page, double-spaced Executive Summary.Insert a page break and then begin writing an 8 to10-page, double-spaced White Paper.Provide a References page.Observe APA formatting throughout.Upload this single document to Assignments and to your team space under the “For Dr. B.” link.



Everyone has been asked to work in a team at some point. Quite often, teams fail. The most common forms of failure are listed below:

  • The team does not have a clear purpose or goal, or it lacks decision-making authority.
  • Members of the team are not meeting expectations of other team members.
  • There is no coherent plan in place for the team to follow.
  • Meetings are not well facilitated, inhibiting the ability to get work accomplished according to plan.
  • Some members fail to do their work and are not held accountable.

Are these failures avoidable? One hundred percent of the time: Yes. But there are necessary conditions that must be in place in order for the team to be successful.

With a team leader willing to facilitate the team up front—when the team is first formed—the team can avoid nearly all of the problems above. Make no mistake: Fostering success in a team is hard work for both the team leader and the participants. But when the team works, the results are overwhelmingly strong. And that’s why organizations always use teams—because the payoff, if the team is successful, is so powerful.

Here is a detailed 14-step model to ensure the success of the team. All team members, including the team leaders, should diligently apply each of these strategies to ensure the team’s success.

  1. Choose roles for each team member. One member of the team should be the leader, and each other person should have specific assignments in terms of the important functional roles of teams. Everyone’s purpose should be clear, not just as a subject matter expert on the team, but also as fulfilling a role in managing the team’s work.
  2. Negotiate behavioral expectations for the team. Establish team expectations on performance, on decision making, on holding each other accountable, on sticking to the timeline for the team’s work, and on handling conflict. Use these behavioral negotiations as part of the team charter. Have each team member visually review and formally commit to the team, which is an explicit agreement to be held accountable to the rules. Keep the document handy. When there is a new rule that needs to be added, add it; when conflicts need to be addressed, bring the expectations back out and review them with each other. Additionally, your expectations should clearly state meeting cadence, form of meetings, and expectations for those meetings.
  3. Scope the team’s work. This is where the team gets specific on the work the team is to perform. A scoping document should be prepared and iteratively negotiated with the team’s sponsor. It may take multiple iterations back and forth to make sure that the project is 100 percent clear, but time invested here ensures that there is no misunderstanding later (e.g., scope creep when the task expands from what was agreed), or that the results the team develops are not accepted by the sponsor.
  4. Develop a team work plan. Use whatever tools are at hand to develop a timeline for the team’s work, making sure to establish SMART goals. Make sure the team has sufficient time for each step of the work to meet the final timeline requirements. Quite often, it helps to start with the due date and work backward to ensure all work can be completed. If the work cannot be completed, the team sponsor should be consulted for negotiation of the timeline and/or the expectations.
  5. Refine the team work plan to establish metrics and milestones for each phase plan. The team should establish specific checkpoints—milestones—that represent decision points in the plan. The number of points is a function of the scope of the work, but there should be enough check-ins with the team sponsor to demonstrate work the team has accomplished and get approvals for continued movement forward where appropriate. For each of these milestones, there should be a metric to determine whether the team is on track. This metric should be very specific and measurable so as to gauge success. It may be as simple as a yes/no question, but that metric will indicate whether or not you are on track.
  6. Present the full charter to the team sponsor for approval. Assemble your results from steps 3 to 5 into a team charter and present it to the team sponsor, the individual who empowered the team. This is your chance to do the absolute most to ensure the team’s success—getting full and unambiguous agreement as to what the team is going to do and how. Note: If additional resources are required, those resources should be identified at this point so that when approval is given to the project, approval is also given for the resources required.
  7. Begin the work of the team. With approval in hand, it is time to begin the work of the team. Have a kickoff meeting to get everyone started. Make it very clear what the first deliverables are, when they are due, and what each person will be doing. Review the meeting cadence so that everyone knows when things are due and when they should be prepared to report.
  8. Plan and facilitate regular team meetings to discuss the 4 Ps. Hold regular team meetings to discuss progress, performance, problems, and plans going forward. The team leader should facilitate these meetings, appointing another team member to take notes identifying action items and discussion results. These meetings should be extremely purposeful, with clearly articulated decisions to be made, reports to be given, and a determination in advance of what should be done. Agendas should be established and sent out before the meeting. It is strongly recommended that team behavioral expectations be brought out regularly and reviewed for compliance; ask the team whether or not expectations are being met and what rules should change going forward. This is a critical step in continuing to build trust among the team members. After each meeting’s progress report, the team project timeline should be revised to reflect new findings and time adjustments.
  9. Offer concise behavioral and performance feedback to other members of the team. The team leader should ensure that, when appropriate or when required, feedback is clearly being given directly to members of the team. This means that it is not the leader giving feedback, but team members are directly giving feedback to each other. Conflicts or violations of the behavioral expectations should be talked through immediately and directly to avoid further problems. Team members should offer feedback to the leader and vice-versa. The more precise the communication of the team, the more likely the success of the team.
  10. Communicate regularly. The team should hold each other accountable for communicating the work being accomplished regularly—not just in regular meetings, but as needed for the team to be optimally productive. Typically, other teams are dependent on the work of others; regular and consistent communication will ensure no one’s time is wasted.
  11. At each milestone, the team leader should meet with the team sponsor. The team leader should communicate progress, problems, and decisions, giving the team sponsor a chance to guide the team’s work where appropriate. At each milestone, the project plan should be reviewed and validated, given the remaining work and the sponsor’s agreement. Each milestone is also an opportunity for the team leader to meet with members of the team and give another opportunity for feedback and reflection. The behavioral expectations should be adjusted to reflect any changes. The team leader should take time to celebrate and reinforce the excellent work of the team.
  12. Repeat steps 8 to 11 until the project is completed. If the model is being followed closely, the timeline will be accurate, meetings will be productive, the work will continue forward, and the team sponsor will have signed off on the work at each milestone. This ensures that the final product will meet all of the scope requirements in the original charter.
  13. Deliver the final product. When the work is complete, deliver the final deliverables in the required form to the team sponsor and any designates. This is a chance for all team members to own the final result.
  14. Reflect. Take time in a meeting to reflect on the success of the team. Whether or not the team will work together in the future, this is a chance to learn from this team for use on future team projects. Take time to celebrate if warranted. Ask the questions, “What would you do differently in future projects, from your perspective?” “What contributed to the success of this team?” and “What will you do differently in the next team you are leading?”

Team Assignment FAQs

  • Our client/team sponsor isn’t really sure about what they specifically want; how should we handle this situation? This is often the case. It is your job to elicit clarity from them; facilitate the discussion to get them to tell you specifically what they want. Ask probing and explicit questions. If you don’t get specificity from them, the team has little chance for success. Conversely, if the client has you all over the place, you haven’t facilitated well. To remedy this situation, ask for a meeting and get everything nailed down as early as possible. Once you get all the information you can from them, it is always helpful to submit back to them a scoping agreement—a memorandum in which you outline in detail exactly what you think the agreement is and what the deliverables are, including deadlines. Quite often, it is advisable to require the team sponsor to agree in writing (by email or a signature) to what you’ve developed after you’ve made any final changes.
  • After the team’s work began, the client/team sponsor wanted to change the scope. What do we do? This also happens quite often. Depending on the situation, you may need to go back to the initial scoping agreement and make changes, if time permits, but pay special attention to the deadline for the team’s work; it may need to be adjusted to handle the additional work. Sure, they want you to do more—redraft the scoping agreement to include the new changes, change the estimated completion time, and get them to again agree formally in writing. In some cases, the final deadline is fixed. In that case, facilitate a discussion to develop a scoping agreement for a second phase of the assignment, letting your team sponsor know that the new work can’t be completed until after the original work is done. Your expertise at facilitation will help you keep the client on scope (and to avoid scope creep) and make sure your team completes the work on time and on budget. Additional work can be completed in subsequent time frames.
  • A member of our team isn’t doing the appropriate share of the work. How do we handle this? This is one of the most typical aspects of team work. Most often it results when there are not clear expectations and/or accountability criteria for each member. As part of your team expectations discussion up front, talk about how it is every team member’s responsibility to confront others when they aren’t doing their work; it isn’t just the leader’s responsibility. If the team gets to the point where it is frustrated with a member of the team for nonperformance, the team is taking a passive approach and has waited too long to confront the culprit. In this case, the leader should have a direct discussion with the errant team member to discuss the problem and potential solutions. Oher team members always know about the problem, so secrecy isn’t valuable in this discussion. In its next meeting, the team should revisit its agreed-to performance expectations and responsibilities and discuss the problem openly, no matter how difficult this feels. Failing to confront it will only lead to suboptimal performance. If the team member’s performance still fails to meet expectations after the team has tried these approaches, the team sponsor should be contacted by the leader, but only after these attempts; it’s the team’s and the leader’s responsibility to first work on the issues as a team. It may later become the case that certain team members need to be replaced, but in most cases, once team members are confronted and held accountable, they pick it up and do their work.
  • I hate working in teams; I always work better by myself. Why do I have to do a team assignment? One of the top five skill areas needed by executives in today’s global market is the ability to lead and manage teams. Executive teams and corporate boards are two forms of teams. Another of the top five skills executives need is the ability to lead and manage projects, which are accomplished by teams. If you are bad at working on teams, you need to fix that because the reality is that all companies employ teams. Think about it this way: If you lead a few teams to successful results and see the power of teamwork, maybe your opinion will change. Teams are incredibly powerful when they work successfully—that’s why companies use them so often. If your teams are not being successful, think about why this is the case and what you can do to change the situation. Then, lead, and change the way your teams work.
  • Our team is made up of procrastinators, and we are always pushing deadlines. This is a bad habit that the leader of the team, along with each member, must actively address. Require strict adherence to the timeline. As a team leader, if you know your team is bad at time management, you should be working with your training and development people to get them time management resources. Procrastination only ever works if every team member correctly guesses at the amount of time needed to complete an assignment and begins accordingly. If you wait until 10 hours before a deadline to start an assignment only to find that the assignment really needs 20 hours of work, your team’s timeline is destroyed. Fix it. Lead.

Teamwork and Leadership


The concepts of teamwork and leadership both refer to particular ways people relate to one another, often in the workplace but also in academic or volunteer settings. People can make work an exciting, fun, and productive place to be, or they can make it a routine, boring, and ineffective place where everyone dreads to go. Steve Jobs, cofounder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. attributes the innovations at Apple, which include the iPod, MacBook, and iPhone, to people, noting, “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have.…It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it” (Kirkpatrick, 1998, p. 90).

While there is much research on how to help teams perform well and how leaders can be more effective, the people in many organizations do not put this knowledge into practice. This research provides answers for the following questions any leader or teammember should be thinking about. As a member of a team, what does it mean to cooperate and communicate openly? As a leader, how does one motivate their people? When should leaders empower workers and when should they dictate? After all, the teams and leaders must have a shared vision that they are working towards. But how can leaders effectively share their vision? Or how do they adapt their vision when faced with new data, particularly from within the organization?


Kirkpatrick, D. (1998). The second coming of Apple. Fortune, 138: 90. Retrieved from http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998

Creating and Maintaining Team Cohesion

Team Cohesion Defined

One definition of cohesion is “a group property with individual manifestations of feelings of belongingness or attraction to the group” (Lieberman et al., 1973: 337). It is generally accepted that group cohesion and performance are associated. “However, the issue of a cause/effect relationship between group cohesion and performance is not completely resolved. Generally, there tend to be more studies supporting a positive relationship between group cohesion and performance.” [1] With that in mind the following article is an effort to enhance group/team cohesion and as a result help improve group/team performance

The Question

What is team cohesiveness and why does it matter to an organization to have cohesiveness within its teams?

Team Composition

How to Promote Team Cohesion When Selecting and Identifying Diversity Within Teams

In their journal article “Beyond Relational Demography: Time and the Effects of Surface- and Deep-Level Diversity on Work Group Cohesion,” David A. Harrison, Kenneth H. Price, and Myrtle P. Bell discuss the composition of teams and its effect on cohesiveness. They describe two different categories of diversity, namely surface level and deeper level.

Surface-Level Diversity

Surface level attributes are “immutable [and] almost immediately observable.” [2] Such attributes include age, sex, and race/ethnicity. In general, the findings have been fairly inconsistent within and across studies as to how diversity in these areas affect team cohesion

Deep-Level Diversity

Deep-level diversity includes differences among members’ attitudes, beliefs, and values. These attributes are less apparent than surface-level differences and are “learned through extended, individualized interaction and information gathering.” [3] They are communicated differences which are shared through both verbal and nonverbal behavior. There has been less research done in this area with regards to teams in workplace settings, though a number of social psychological studies have been conducted. The findings consistently suggest that “attitudinal similarity [is] associated with higher group cohesiveness.” [4] Diversity also improves communication, reduces personal conflict, attracts friendships, and gives more satisfaction to group members.


Overall, the school of thought that is most widely accepted, in regards to team cohesion, is that “surface-level differences are less important and deep-level differences are more important for groups that had interacted more often” [5]. Harrison, Price, and Bell’s study concluded that while homogeneous groups interacted and performed more effectively than heterogeneous groups in the beginning, with time and information, the diverse groups’ performance and processes improved more rapidly and “had grown more effective in identifying problems and generating solutions” [6]. Overall cohesiveness was strengthened in such cases. Hence, for optimum results, teams ought to include deep-level diversity as part of the process for achieving cohesiveness.

Internal Environment Factors Needed in Team Cohesion

Internally there are several factors that must be present for cohesion to exist within a team. First good and appropriate communication is essential to creating and maintaining cohesion. Communication leads to the second factor, unity of purpose. For a team to work as a cohesive team they must share a common goal and to collectively work towards that goal. And finally, the team must have a high level of commitment understanding that what they do together as a team is better than what they do on their own.


In the article “Building Team Cohesion: Becoming ‘We’ Instead of ‘Me’” the authors stress the importance of not losing the “human moment” which they define as “not to lose the powerful impact of face-to-face, immediate interaction in real time and space.” Furthermore, the authors add the following:

“It is communication in the “human moment” that most powerfully creates team synergy – the energy that truly makes “the whole greater than the sum of its parts.” It is communication in the “human moment” that also most powerfully creates team cohesion – a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to the team vision as one’s own.”

“Providing communication opportunities in real time and space for forensics team members is necessary to build team cohesion. Whether a room or lounge where team members can congregate between classes and the end of the day, practice space for formal and informal coaching sessions, travel time in cars and vans, or social time to enjoy pizza and a movie, both quantity and quality of communication are necessary to build a cohesive team climate of openness and trust…According to Bormann(1990), highly cohesive groups interact in an open climate where individuals are free to ask questions and disagree with one another; even the ability to work through inevitable team conflict in such a constructive climate will only serve to strengthen team cohesion.”

In order to build cohesion within any team whether it be a sports team or work team communication is an essential ingredient. Providing opportunities for the team members to interact socially is necessary to help build trust. In addition, a safe environment in which the team can deal with conflict is critical to team cohesion.

Unity of Purpose or a Common Goal

A critical factor that must be present for groups or teams to experience cohesion is to have a common goal. In SELF-MANAGING WORK TEAMS:An Empirical Study of Group Cohesiveness in “Natural Work Groups” at a Harley-Davidson Motor Company Plant, the authors state: “that highly cohesive groups tend to perform better because they have high commitment to attaining group goals (e.g., Stogdill, 1972), and because the members are more sensitive to others in the group, they are more willing to assist each other (e.g., Schachter, Ellertson, McBride,&Gregory, 1951).

Additional support to the importance of a common goal in building and maintaining a common goal is found in “Buliding Team Cohesion: Becoming “We” Instead of “Me” where the author relates the following:

“Since cohesion is believed to be one of the distinguishing characteristics of a high-performance team, what is this powerful team quality and how is it cre-ated? According to Bollen and Hoyle (1979), cohesion is the degree of attraction members feel toward one another and the team; “it is a feeling of deep loyalty, of esprit de corps, the degree to which each individual has made the team’s goal his or her own, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of morale” (as cited in Beebe & Masterson, 2000, p. 122). Though cohesion is rooted in the feelings team mem-bers have for one another as well as a common goal, creating, shaping, and strengthening those feelings relies on the use of effective communication. Communication scholars have long agreed that group or team cohesion is as much about the relationships created as the task at hand, and success in both fos-ters the development of team cohesion. (Bormann, 1990).

Without a purpose or a common goal a team will eventually splinter into separate individuals working towards their own personal agendas and not together toward a team goal. It is important for team members to see themselves as a part of the group working towards a goal for cohesiveness to exist.


Teams that are not committed to each other or a common goal do not experience cohesion and are much more like to leave the team or even the organization. In the article “Commitment and the Control of Organizational Behavior and Belief” the author states the following:

“Commitment also derives from the relation of an employee’s job to those of other in the organization. Some jobs are rather isolated and can be done independently of other jobs in the organization. It has been found that jobs which are not integrated with the work activities of others tend to be associated with less favorable attitudes. (Sheperd, 1973). Gow, Clarkand dossett (1974), for instance find that telephone operators who quit tend to be those who are not integrated into the work group. Work integration can affect commitment by the fact that integrated jobs are likely to be associated with salient demands from others in the organization. If a person has a job which affects the work of others in the organization, it is likely that those other will communicate their expectations for performance of that job. Such expectations can be committing in that the other people implicitly or explicitly hold the person accountable for what he does. Earlier we mentioned that when individuals did not know what was expected of them they tended to be less committed to the organization. One reason an individual will not know what is expected is because no one is telling him. In general, we would expect that anything which contributes to creating definite expectations for a person’s behavior would enhance his felt responsibility, and hence commitment.”

We learn from the above author that for commitment to exist we employees need to know what is expected of them and then to know they will be held accountable either by a manager or other co-workers. Once commitment is present team members are more likely to stay and work towards the team goal.

Role of Management in Team Cohesion

The roles that management has in a team that they oversee are extremely important. But it is also important for the management to understand the boundaries of what their roles and responsibilities are and what the roles and responsibilities of the team itself are. The manager is often placed in the management position because of their people and technical skills and experience. A team often benefits from the manager’s abilities, skills, aptitudes, insights and ideas. But neither the management nor the team should ever forget that it is the team’s responsibility to perform the actual work. So what role should management play in a team that they oversee? How best can they serve the team to ensure they are successful? A critical role that management can and should have is to facilitate and encourage team cohesion.

Establish the Team Vision/Goal

The first step in creating team cohesion and where management should be involved is in the establishment of the team vision and/or goal. Management must set a clear vision to which the team can jointly work towards together. As Tommy Lasorda, former manager of the LA Dodgers, stated, “My responsibility is to get my 25 guys playing for the name on the front of their shirt and not the one on the back.”[7] Management must “establish a common goal for [the] team – an underlying target that will bind [them] together…”[8] The goal must be as clear as possible for each member of the team. “Goal clarity is critical for team members to have confidence in their direction and to be committed to make it happen.”[9] A clearly defined goal articulated to the team in such a way that they all understand will inspire the team and commit them to the cause.

Once the goal has been clearly defined and clearly articulated, management must keep the vision and goal alive. Obstacles, tension, and crises may arise that can distract or discourage away from the common goal. The management must “continually reinforce and renew the team goal.”[10]

Being that managements “primary responsibility is to ensure that the team reaches its goal,”[11] management must also facilitate a working environment, set clear expectations and responsibilities, and lastly, let the team do their job.

Facilitate a Working Environment

Once the team vision and goal has been established, the most important contribution management can make “is to ensure a climate that enables team members to speak up and address the real issues preventing the goal from being achieved.”[12] Such a climate includes creating an environment of trust, communication and openness with each other. As Frank Lafasto describes in his book, openness and supportiveness are “the ability to raise and resolve the real issues standing the way of a team accomplishing its goal. And to do so in a way that brings out the best thinking and attitude of everyone involved. It’s too hard for team members to contribute, much less explore the possibilities, when it is not safe for them to say what’s on their minds. They must be able to speak honestly. They must be able to deal openly with real obstacles, problems, and opportunities in a way that promotes listening, understanding of differing perspectives, and constructively working towards a solution.”[13] The environment and climate in which the team works and operates must be facilitated by the management to ensure that trust is established, collective collaboration is demanded, and openness is welcome.

Set Clear Expectations and Responsibilities

Management responsibility is also to set clear expectations and responsibilities of the team and individual team members. Patrick Lencioni describes in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” that a team where there is ambiguity about the direction and priorities fails to commit. Whereas when the expectations, direction and priorities are clear the team is more likely to commit to the cause and each other.[14] Management must establish clear expectations so there is no ambiguity or question of what is expected of the team, whether it is the timeline, product, requirements, etc.

Also, management must set clear responsibilities. “There are few behaviors that build confidence as well as personalized expression of belief in an individual. One of the most direct signals of such belief is trusting someone with important and meaningful responsibility.”[15] Clear and meaningful responsibility that allows the team members to stretch enhances their trust and confidence. And, as Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric, put it, “giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing I can do. Because then they will act.”[16]

Training and Staffing

According to Chansler, Swamidass, & Cammann to get a task completed, “a work team must have the resources to do the job. Specifically, the team needs trained, competent team members. Training is a planned effort by a firm to help employees learn job-related competencies (Noe, 1999). Training is used by companies to gain a competitive advantage over rivals in their respective industries. A company must provide adequate resources to an empowered team to staff and train its members adequately.” It is the responsibility of Management to provide such training. Chansler, Swamidass, & Cammann also suggest management should provide its workers with both “hard” and “soft” skills. “Hard-skills training helps them do their jobs properly so that the plant can produce a quality product cost-effectively. Soft-skills training, on the other hand, teaches the workers to get along better as part of a functioning team; this type of skills training improves interpersonal dynamics and relationships. To effectively and efficiently manufacture quality product, both types of training are needed.” [17] It is therefore the responsibility of management to make sure that group/ team members have the hard and soft skills to perform tasks and maintain cohesion.

Get Out of Their Way

And lastly, the manager’s role is to get out of the team’s way. Once the team knows what they are working towards, tasks have been clearly defined and delegated, expectations are clearly set and they have the means to build relationships of trust and have open communication, the manager needs to step back and let the team work. The last thing the team needs, not only to reach their goal, but also to build strong cohesion is, as Dr. Travis Bradberry described, a seagull manager; one that swoops in when problems arise “squawking and dumpling advice, only to take off and let others clean up the mess.”[18] Management needs to let the members in the team be smart and informed about key issues and facts related to their tasks and goal. Then management must trust team members by providing sufficient autonomy, which will in turn build confidence.


Ultimately, the goal and role of management should be to add value to the team’s effort. This can be done by defining a clear vision and goal, facilitate a working environment, set clear expectations and responsibilities, and provide the team enough autonomy where they can work and do their jobs with full commitment and confidence.

Examples of Team Cohesion: The Good

A good example of team Cohesion is that of the Harley Davidson Motor Company (HDMC) and its group structure. The well known turnaround of HDMC occurred in the 1980s when it changed from a “command-and-control” culture to that of self-managing work teams (SMWT). This change allowed assembly employees to make important decisions in their work teams [19]. With group work as the foundation of HDMC’s manufacturing cohesion among group members was essential.

At its Kansas City Plant HDMC natural work groups (NWG) were organized to make decisions (and build motorcycles). The plant’s employees are made up of local union members. “This partnership allows the shifting of the decision-making and financial responsibilities for the operation of the plant to the assembly floor employees” [20].

The structure of the plant divides workers into NWGs. Each NWG is either assigned to one of four process operations groups (POG) (the Assembly POG, the Fabrication POG, the Paint POG, or a POG dedicated to future programs) or provides “computer, human resources, materials, and so forth, support for the operations NWGs (denoted as RG or Resource Groups). Each of the NWGs is represented by NWG-elected (on a rotating basis) members. The highest level of the circular organization is the lone plant leadership group (PLG), which is cochaired by the plant manager and two local union presidents” [21].

Within this group structure HDMC provides for widespread access to information. “All financial and operations information is available to all team members, which allows them to monitor budgets and production quotas” [22]. This access to information facilitates open communication which in turn leads to greater team cohesion. Cohesion is also furthered by the autonomy of workers within the group. “Each NWG is empowered to make decisions with regard to any aspect of the assembly process as long as it does not cross over its boundary and impede another NWG” [23]. With freedom to make any necessary decisions and freedom from continuous managerial intervention NWGs are free to bend and move as needed in response to any given situation.

Interestingly in this structure there are no formal team leaders. “NWGs are collectively led by the members of the group. Traditional leadership duties such as scheduling, safety monitoring, budget balancing, and so forth, are rotated among the NWG members on a regular basis (usually monthly). The NWG controls its own budget, sick pay, overtime, and consumable production materials. Individual performance measures are not maintained. The NWG performance is measured on achievement of plant goals and on the goals that they set for themselves” [24]. This sharing of responsibilities fosters cohesion by aligning the goals of the group, goals each member is included in creating.

Examples of Team Cohesion: The Bad

The 2010 film “The Social Network” is based on the events and circumstances that lead to the creation and founding of the social networking website “Facebook.” Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his friend, co-founder Eduardo Saverin agree to launch the site and split up ownership of the new company equitably. In the process of developing the company, other individuals and interests come into play that are detrimental to the team cohesion developed by Mark and Eduardo eventually leading to multi-million dollar lawsuits and the end of the original founding team.

Several factors that lead to the failure of team cohesion:

Team members were unable to work together cooperatively

Team goals were not shared by everyone on the team

Team members felt that they were not recognized for individual contributions to accomplish team goals

Selfish interests were able to infiltrate the team cohesion

The fact that team members were unable to work cooperatively together is likely the single biggest factor in the failure of the original “Facebook” leadership team. In the movie, to help advance the growth of the company, Mark brought in a third partner, Sean Parker, the co-founder of the famous music sharing sight “Napster.” Mark was instantly drawn to Sean’s charismatic personality and vision for “Facebook.” At the same time, Eduardo was highly skeptical of Sean and his business history. Immediately Mark began to lean toward the ideas that Sean had developed for “Facebook” and eventually gave Sean a small ownership stake in the company as well as a management position. Upon learning this, Eduardo was very upset that Mark would go ahead and make the decision to include Sean without consulting him first.

Mark and Eduardo both had visions of keeping this site exclusive for the elite college institutions around the country and gradually introducing it to other colleges. When Sean was brought into the company he presented Mark with a business plan to expand “Facebook” beyond the college scene and introduce it to the general public. At the same time he was trying to convince Mark that he needed to relocate the business to Palo Alto, CA from Boston, MA. Eduardo was never consulted on these propositions that were made to Mark. Eduardo felt like Sean was trying to push him out of the company and influence many of the decisions made by Mark. As the company grew and others were able to influence decision making, the team goals had clearly changed and not everyone shared the same vision.

When “Facebook” was originally started Eduardo was designated as the CFO of the company. In this responsibility he put up the initial seed money to get it off the ground. He was in charge of all finances and bank accounts for the company. While Mark was moving the company headquarters to Palo Alto, Eduardo was spending time in New York working on securing advertising contracts with prominent advertising firms. When Eduardo goes to visit the team in Palo Alto he begins to tell Mark all about the progress he has made with the advertisers but instead he is told all about the work that Sean and Mark had accomplished and is essentially told that his time and work in New York will not be needed. Eduardo felt like his contributions to the company and goals were not being recognized. This drives Eduardo further and further from the team.

Throughout the life of the original leadership team there were many occasions where selfish interests were able to infiltrate team cohesion. Sean was the worst offender of this. Sean was one of the founders of “Napster.” “Napster” was eventually forced to shut down and was facing many lawsuits from the record industry. Sean saw an opportunity to work with Mark and Eduardo on “Facebook.” Sean could see the potential that this venture had and also that he could influence the socially introverted Mark by filling him with visions of big pay days and a life style full of privilege. At times he appeared to try and relive his days of “Napster” and treated “Facebook” like it was his own company and he was trying to accomplish the goals there that weren’t achievable at “Napster.” After a party to celebrate the 1 millionth member of “Facebook,” Sean was arrested with several other “Facebook” interns for possession of cocaine and was eventually dismissed from the company. Through these actions, Sean clearly was acting in his own self interest and did not take into account what the effects would be on the group or company. In many ways the selfish actions of Sean drove a wedge between Mark and Eduardo that eventually lead to lawsuits and the end of the original leadership team. [25]


Ways to Increase Team Cohesion

Each group environment is different and will present different challenges. In order to create a cohesive team unit it is important for team members to be aware of this and work towards it. In Joseph Powell Stokes’s research, he found that “risk taking that occurs in a group, attraction to individual members of the group, and the instrumental value of a group are all related to the cohesion of the group”. He proposes that “increasing risk taking, intermember attraction, and the instrumental value of a personal change group might lead to increased cohesion, which in turn might lead to increase benefits for group participants.” [26]

Each group environment is different and will present different challenges. In order to create a cohesive team unit it is important for team members to be aware of this and work towards it. In Joseph Powell Stokes’s research, he found that “risk taking that occurs in a group, attraction to individual members of the group, and the instrumental value of a group are all related to the cohesion of the group”. He proposes that “increasing risk taking, intermember attraction, and the instrumental value of a personal change group might lead to increased cohesion, which in turn might lead to increase benefits for group participants.” [26]

Potential problems

One possible caveat of cohesion is that when there is too much cohesion, groups are prone to groupthink. “Groupthink is a tendency by groups to engage in a concurrence seeking manner. Groupthink occurs when group members give priority to sustaining concordance and internal harmony above critical examination of the issues under consideration”. [28] It is important for all group members to be conscious of this pitfall and to take precautions to prevent such behavior.

White Paper


A white paper is a form of persuasive writing that advocates a certain product, service, or belief. There is no defined standard for white papers. Anyone can call anything a white paper. Generally, however, they are usually 5-8 pages long, function as a stand-alone document, propose a solution to a problem, and are targeted at a larger audience outside of the organization that authored the paper. White papers are often written to convince potential customers to buy a product or service although better white papers will be genuinely educational and useful to decision makers and not simply a commercial in essay form.

Now that you have a better understanding of various aspects of organizational behavior from the reading in the previous step, take a look at these case studies. Your team can choose one of these cases or look for other options.

In response to the case study, your team will write an instructive white paper (8-10 pages excluding cover sheet and References) that analyzes a company’s management and leadership environment in a particularly challenging period. Your paper should

  • review the issues of the case study as background for the events relating to the role of the leadership and teams
  • analyze the leadership practices of the organization in the case study, and define the practices that leaders used to create collaborative and successful teams, or failed to effect successful working relations resulting in negative conditions
  • propose remedial principles and practices that the organization might adopt to enable a better outcome

In previous steps, you studied organizational behavior, and then the team chose a case and agreed to a project plan. Now it is time to do a closer read of the chosen case and do any additional research. Revisit guidelines on conducting research, if needed. Then look at the list below, which provides some topics for your search strategies. In your search, you should consult scholarly resources as well as online resources, newspapers, and business blogs and sites for similar contemporary cases.

  1. Principles of teamwork within an organization: What were the practices of this organization, and how did these practices influence the issue and challenges the project team and leader confronted?
  2. Best practices for leaders: What practices did the team (or leadership) employ that influenced the outcome, leading to resolution of the crisis, or further exacerbating the situation?
  3. How the composition of leadership influences outcomes: What were the unique characteristics of the project team and leaders?
  4. Judging the success of project teams, immediate and longer term: What unique issues, challenges, or practices are relevant to the leaders, industry, or company?

This step might be completed well before your paper is finished, or you may continue to do research as the paper is developed. Ideally, much of this step should be complete by the end of Week 9 to ensure time for writing. Move on to the next step when you feel you are ready to begin whatever writing component the team’s project plan has allocated to you.

Using the research from the previous step, you and your teammates will write the white paper and executive summary as determined in the project plan. Your team paper and contribution to the team project will be graded using the team project rubric, so be sure the team reviews that document. The white paper and executive summary must be completed by the end of Week 10.

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