The Everest simulation was a web based group exercise of a group of students with an aim of reaching the peak of Mount Everest. This simulation powerfully exemplified the concepts of the importance of attitudes, power, communication, perception and personality and group structures in influencing the dynamics in a group and the success of a group.
This report dwells on the experiences of the group of students encountered in the simulations as well as it identifies the way these experiences contributed to the success of the team attained in the two simulations.
The report includes the analysis and description of the simulation processes and the experiences of the students in the simulation. The report also incorporates a very detailed analysis of the team performance, the dynamics of the students in the team and the effectiveness of communication within the team of students in the simulation exercise.
Upon taking part in the two simulations, the performance of the group of students in the second simulation was better than in the first simulation. This improvement can be attributed to enhanced performance of the team due to their better organization.
In the second simulation, the group had past the development stages of group formation. Alteration in the structure of the group by delegating roles to each member of the group and a defined structure also contributed to better performance in the second simulation.
A change from a directive decision making to analytic mode of decision making other than forcing and imposition in decision making also led to a better outcome in the second simulation. Finally, a change in communication strategies and sharing of knowledge made the outcome of the second simulation better than the first.
Although the performance of the group in the second simulation was better than in the first simulation, the performance in the second simulation was still not satisfactory because the group of students still recorded below average performance.
From these two simulations, it was noted, therefore, that effective communication in groups, good leadership, good decision making processes and good measures of resolving conflict are essential for a group to achieve good performance.
Everest simulation utilizes an online framework of a demanding voyage to the peak of Mount Everest to underpin the importance of good quality dynamics within a team and superior leadership in a team or a group. “A group is a team of two or more individuals who unite to achieve specific goals” (Levi, 2010).
In this every simulation, a group of 6 students simulated an attempt of climbing to the peak of Mount Everest together as a group in two simulations (ABS, 2011).
In each simulation, each student had his or her own objective of fulfilling in the simulation. The aim of these two simulations was to use these simulation exercises to impart the skills of coping with the challenges of developing a team and working together.
The simulations were a way of making the students learn how to use their decision making process, their conflict resolution techniques and their leadership skills in virtual reality as a way of making them use these skills in real life situations (ABS, 2011).
The performance of the simulations was determined by the successful completion of the objectives of the team, individual goals of the team and the health condition of each competitor upon reaching the summit. Both simulations were not carried out on a face to face meeting but on a virtual interface.
This simulation enforced the students to use the concepts and theories being taught during their “teamwork, leadership and decision making skills” (ABS, 2006). The simulation exemplified the utility of working together in groups and offered a parallel example to the students of what it takes to work together in a group.
Description of the team’s experience
The first contact made among the group members in the forming stages of the group was in the exchange the phone numbers of the group members. The group consisted of five group members and an observer.
The group then organized to handle the simulation through a virtual interaction rather than meeting to hold the simulation in one location. The group had one leader and the group unanimously agreed that the decisions in the simulation would be made through a voting process (ABS, 2006).
The goals set by the group of students were reaching the mountain top without the need to rescue and spend extra days at camp 1 and camp 2 on the mountain path. The main challenges indentified by the group included medical challenges, weather challenges and allocation of oxygen tanks.
The group recorded very poor performance on the first simulation because of communication breakdown and none of the group members reached the mountain top or spent an extra day at camp 1 or camp 2 (ABS, 2011).
The second simulation was relatively efficient than the first simulation because of improved team dynamics. It was easier to reach people this time than in the first simulation. The group became more organized because of encountering the same challenges in the first simulation.
The decision making process was also better because the group had shifted from a voting system of decision making to analytical style of decision making. Analytic style of decision making allows a group to critically evaluate alternatives before making a decision which can enhance the success of a group.
The change from a voting process of decision making to a process of analytic mode of decision making meant that there was more time for the group to calculate and weigh the consequences of each decision made and the alternatives of the decision. There was also more harmony in the group in the second simulation and there were no problems of communication breakdown as in the first simulation.
Another factor that made the second simulation better than the first was better conflict resolution strategies. In the first simulation, conflict was resolved through pushing other members of the group because they were more concerned with reaching the summit than the needs of the other people in the team.
In the second simulation, there was collaboration and concern for the needs of others in the team of students which improved the performance of the second simulation by a slight margin. Effective communication is the reason for the team success (O’Connell et al, 2009).
Effective communication in the second simulation allowed the team to achieve some of the goals. Ineffective communication and withholding of some information led to the failure of the first simulation.
The most serous problems in the simulation was information sharing. The chief cause of poor information sharing is personal bias which makes team members consider their needs first rather than the needs of the whole team (Correi, 2005).
This made people seek better outcomes for themselves rather than the needs of the group. This makes people accept only information that fits their need. This is one of the factors that made the simulation carried out by the students in the team to record dismal performance.
Individuals express emotions through their voices, choice of words and facial expressions (Catherine et al, 2004). In all simulations, the group members expressed emotions in many ways. Members would shout at each other, get angry at each other and point towards each other. Such intense emotion led to poor cooperation in the group and is also one of the factors that led to poor performance of the group in the simulations.
Group dynamics are very critical in the success of a group (Brown, 2006). The group of students in the two simulations had poor group dynamics.
In the first simulation, communication between the groups was poor because there was no consensus on most of the issues. Although the process improved a little in the second simulation, the group members did not engage well with each other and there was no group cohesion in both simulations.
Conflict resolution methods can make or break a group (Brilliant, 2006). The team of students in the simulation exercise had poor methods of conflict resolution especially in the first simulation. Each conflict was resolved through pushing and forcing others to accept the opinion of others.
The embrace of the dialogue as conflict resolution greatly improved the score in the second simulation. In each round there was a conflict that was not resolved the mistake eventually led to the failure of the simulation in the next process of the simulation process.
There was no good sharing of roles in the simulation process by the team of students in the simulation exercise. It was possible to find people talking the roles of each other in the simulation process that eventually led to confusion in the process.
The whole process was flawed eventually leading to the failure of the first simulation and the poor performance of the second simulation. There was no clear following of roles assigned in the preparation stage of the simulation process.
The entire planning of the simulations was flawed. The team did not follow the rules assigned in the preparative stage of the simulation process. Good performances in teams require proper thinking and planning such as clear allocation and assigning some tasks among the team members (O’Connell et al, 2009).
The whole process in the simulation was organized hastily due to poor planning and time constrains. Without very good planning and clear organization structure, every student in the group made their own decisions that eventually led to the poor performance recorded by the group.
The decision making process of the team in the simulation was also flawed especially when the team faced a difficult situation. The group did not believe that it was necessary to make some beneficial tradeoffs to benefit the whole group.
Everybody in the group fought for his own interests in the group rather than its wider interests. In any group, if members do not consider the underlying interests of others then it is likely that the success of the team will not be realized.
Open communication and positive feedback are the main factors that contribute significantly to the creation of an Effective team (Levi, 2010). This was not evident in the team of students in the simulation. Team members should always be willing to accommodate the opinion of others and accept constructive criticism.
Successful teams are always, motivated, engaged and are aimed to achieve the collective goals of the group rather than personal goals (ABS, 2011). The members of the group in the simulation were not able to engage properly with each other in both simulations because of focus on an individual rather than group goals.
Analysis of the team’s performance
The team of students in the simulation exercise performed poorly in the first simulation and only recorded average success in the second simulation. The main reason was poor group dynamics in the team. However, in the second simulation the group was able to achieve some successes because the group had matured through the stages of group development.
Better decision making practices, better conflict resolution techniques and better leadership are also factors that contributed to better performance in the group in the second simulation. The effectiveness of groups increases with time AS groups undergo forming and storming stages where they record poor successes to a period of performing and normalization stages (ABS, 2011).
This was evident in the team of students in the simulation because the performance of the group in the second simulation was better than the first. In the first simulation, the team of students was not well organized and the team was not acquainted well with each other.
Power struggle was another factor that led to the poor performance of the group of students in the simulation. There was no clear group structure and everybody did things in their own way. In the second simulation, there was a clear assigning of the roles and clear group structure that made the group to function better.
A better decision making procedure from directive to analytic method also made the group to function better in the second simulation.
Analysis of communication strategies in the team
The team used satellite communication in the Everest simulation, satellite communication was not very convenient because it broke down for some time during the simulation experiences which made coordination of the team members difficult (ABS, 2011).
In the first Everest simulation, there was no effective communication because there was no sharing of information and knowledge. The failure of the first simulation exemplified the importance of effective communication in-groups.
Effective communication entails the exchange of ideas and knowledge and understanding their meaning (Brilliant, 2006). Improved communication in the second simulation made the team to achieve some successes by achieving some of the team’s goals.
This simulation, therefore, exemplifies the importance of effective communication to the success of a group. The performance of the team was enhanced a little through the team advancing through the stages of group development and a change in group structure, a change in decision and conflict resolution techniques.
If the team of students had followed these principles of good organization and planning of the simulation, the team would have recorded better performance in all the simulation exercise.
Through the Everest simulation, the team of students in the simulation exercise was able to utilize the knowledge they have learnt in class in real life situations.
The group members learnt that a mix of effective communication, good group structure, good decisions making practices and conflict resolution techniques are very essential ingredients for the success of a team. This group exercise also exemplified the importance of good group dynamics in the work processes of a group.
Positive feedback and effective communication are key factors that lead to increase in the cohesiveness of a group. It is essential for group members to value the needs of others and accommodate differing opinions and accept constructive criticism.
The team members in a group should be highly motivated and should engage well with each other. It is also essential that each group member to keep their selfish interests at bay for the success of the group. If team members can focus on the needs of a group rather than their own individual gains, a team can attain a commendable success.
The performance of the group in the two simulations was poor. This simulation offered valuable lessons to the group of students on the barriers to effective team management.
The simulation offered a window of learning to the students from their mistakes and offer insights of understanding the functioning of groups. The Everest simulation was an exercise that offered the group of students a first hand experience of what it takes to work as a team and the challenges of forming effective group that performs exceptionally.
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