Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Beginning

Today being my second day at the VBC, I find myself overwhelmed with paperwork, in desperate need of a binder, but most importantly, excited about the experience that I am about to have. A great deal of this excitement comes from my intrigue towards the old house that we operate out of, as well as my enthusiasm for the project that we hope to accomplish by the end of the semester (not to mention the game of Clue that promises to be quite the event). However, the majority of the excitement that I feel comes from the new trust that I am beginning to form in the team that I have become a part of; it is a trust that will continue being built on a foundation of collaboration.

As we all came together for the first time, we were asked to consider this word, collaboration, in several different ways: what does collaboration mean; how is it accomplished; what does it create? Today I came a little closer to answering these questions. We performed a team activity (turning a plain, yellow cake into a work of art) that allowed me to gain insight into how I interpret collaboration. During the activity, I immediately began to assess the roles that my team members seemed comfortable performing; I mentally selected the thinkers, the doers, the organizers, and the enthusiasts. While performing this mental act, I realized that I was completing a very necessary step in successful collaboration: pre-game delegation. Pre-game delegation is the step in which team members assess the strengths, skills, weaknesses, and personalities of their peers in order to make the most of their time together. This assessment allows each member to gain a sense of where they are needed as well as how to best capitalize on the skills of others to produce an effective product. Once this is complete, team members will be better able to select for themselves/delegate tasks to those who will complete them in the most effective manner, making the experience more positive for all involved.

In addition to pre-game delegation, the team activity allowed me to realize the value of communication and compromise that create collaboration. In order to complete our task efficiently, we had to plan our ideas (if only verbally in this case) and quickly anticipate problems. To accomplish this, some ideas took the stage while others were asked to step behind the curtain. This allowed each of us to contribute as well as decide when our contributions were not quite right for a specific task. This can be a tough call to make, but through good communication among members, the decisions need not (and should not) be made alone—a concept important to both the end product as well as the experience of creating it.

Overall, I found that collaboration requires participation both physically (communicating, creating, and compromising) as well as mentally (reading and understanding each other). And though a challenging task, collaboration has the potential to build a trust and a team that can create the most delicious results!

** Image taken by Peregrine Blue and found at