Forestry project and groupwork issues

Currently we’re working on a project on service design for forestry. The project started in the beginning of April, but it really feels like it started just 2 weeks ago. We went on a field trip to the forest when we brooded in a deep snow/ice listening to a relatively boring (in my opinion) lecture. Then we were fed a ton of information, and told to read through boring scientific reports which were supposed to give us an overview of the industry and environment. In the way they did, but with the time given we only scratched the surface and which to me makes almost no difference whether or not I went through all the information. In fact, I just got the impression that everyone got confused from the amount of it and broadness, there was no clear target or problem. Sure, there are problems, quite a few, but we can’t solve all of them, and many are outside of our possibilities, e.g. influence on law and regulations and politics about forestry.

This project if a fully group project, and therefore it’s doomed for having various issues within the groups, and so it happened, and in this case the available information was our enemy. Difficulty in finding direction, agreeing on direction, people denying to read documents (I’m guilty of that too). But mostly about finding a direction and specifying ideas. From the beginning I knew I’d have to lead my group, but eventually the lack of ability to make decisions, and, in fact, lack of commitment to the group started to be a big obstacle. One day I came home really pissed off after an unproductive day of “maybes” and “perhapses” and illustrated our groupwork. At least I finally got a chance for “learning” some infographics/illustrations.

groupwork-cycle

The next day we tried to sort out our problems and also asked our program director to help us with that, which was a good thing. What I found funny at that conversation was that my remaining group members said we lack a leader, and then I wondered what was I doing all that time then. People generally don’t like groupwork and they have certain images of what leaders and leadership is about – making orders, decisions and delegating  tasks. And even though we got a brilliant and short book about working in teams, but who cares to read that? And that’s how we get those common misconceptions. I know I’m not the best leader, but I’m trying and learning, I can order, but I don’t want to, I want to make sure works get done, people stay on the right track, work is systematic, and I try facilitate to make decisions together, but nope, apparently that’s not leadership according to my group mates.

Either way, eventually we got passed that. Got a concept, which was the most obvious and simple idea, in my opinion, that I suggested not thinking anyone would approve of it, since it’s so boringly obvious, but in a way it still works. We continued working on it, with my idea and my quality standards I had the most amount of work. Oh well, if you want to get something done, do it yourself, right?

Presentation + idea + graphic design of materials all mine

Presentation + idea + graphic design of materials all mine

Anyway, that was the start. Now we’re nearing the end of the project. We had an internal presentation for our tutors on Friday that was in a way concluding main part of our project. Now we have to make a movie that would give some background to our project, without being a direct advertisement. And here is our group again, different ideas, constantly diverging instead of converging on ideas and making decisions, almost avoiding making decisions. I’m the only one writing stuff down to at least have some reference point to hold on to. In the end, it just feels like I’m forcing my vision onto others, but I really don’t know how else to encourage people to think of concrete ideas and watch out for “plot holes”. This project is quite exceptionally nerve-wrecking and testing my patience. In fact, I like the project itself, it just everything around it…

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