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Simmons Laboratories Group Dynamics’ Case Essay


Most of the work in modern organizations is usually done in groups that are specifically set up to perform certain functions of ultimate benefit to the company. In this case, each member of the group usually plays a very important part in the achievement of the general objective of the group. His contribution is usually of great help to the group as he tries to incorporate his individual perception of the problem at hand as well as trying to solve such a problem using his own knowledge and experience. Sharing of the ideas therefore helps the group to function properly, and thus produce high quality work. While undertaking a certain project in a group, certain factors usually come up to promote or hinder the working of the group. This paper will discuss the group dynamics of Simmons Laboratories, a company that was undertaking research by the use of groups.

Simmons laboratories

Simmons Laboratories was a company that undertook scientific research on various issues and used to receive funding for the projects it undertook. For instance, the company had received funding to undertake scientific research on photons. In this case, the company had undertaken considerable progress in the research under the leadership of Brandon Newbridge. Newbridge had successfully managed to cultivate an environment that facilitated cohesion of the group members. However, the entry of Lester Zapf into the groups led to the deterioration of the group cohesion, which threatened the attainment of the objectives of the project that the group was undertaking.

This was despite the fact that Zapf was intellectually brighter than the initial members of the group were. The intellectual ability of Zapf proves to be disastrous to the group and finally leads to disintegration of the group, especially after the departure of Newbridge. The main problems that Simmons Laboratories is faced with are:

  • Team leadership
  • Lack of communication
  • Personality differences
  • Group thinking

Team leadership

Team leadership is one of the most important features leading to the success or failure of a group. The team leader must be able to provide direction and guidance on the main objectives of the group. The team leader generally supervises the activities of the group members and allocates them the tasks that they can effectively handle. In addition, he should generally have more knowledge on the project being undertaken by the group in order to be able to effectively supervise the group and determine whether the group is making progress or not (Huczczo, 2004, p. 24). Moreover, the team leader must be able to motivate the group members to enable them achieve objectives of the project. Generally, a team leader should care about the project more than any other member of the group should, in order to effectively monitor the development of the project (Lewis, 2004, p. 21).

Another characteristic of a team leader is that, he should have control of the group and he should always allow and be ready for competition for leadership with other members of the group. Effective team leadership usually leads to increase in the cohesiveness of the group, hence facilitating the working together of the team members to attain the major objectives of the project.

Before the entry of Zapf into the photon group, Newbridge had effectively managed to achieve the above leadership attributes; the members of the group had a high level of cohesiveness. The team members usually viewed the other members as critical to the success of the group regardless of their professional contribution to the project (Starbuck, n.d, p. 496). Zapf immediate contribution upon entry into the group proves that he is more knowledgeable on the issue that the group is undertaking. The group therefore looks for guidance from him to enable them to solve the problems that it is faced with in attainment of the objectives of the project.

However, instead of providing guidance to the group, Zapf looks down upon the members of the group. However, instead of Newbridge correcting Zapf so that he may understand that each member is critical to the group’s success, Newbridge decides to keep quite though he is irritated by the remarks (Starbuck, n.d, p. 498). This way, he slowly starts to loose control of the group, which he initially had, to Zapf. By ceding control of the project to Zapf, Newbrigde exposes the group members to prejudice by Zapf, slowly leading to the disintegration of the cohesiveness of the members. Zapf points out to Goh, the project head, the irrelevance of Oliver and Davenport to the group. On the other hand, Zapf singles out Link as important to the group, thus creating divisions in the group.

Lack of effective communication

Communication is another important aspect that determines the success of various arms of an organization. Effective communication enables sharing of ideas between different arms of the organization. In addition, there are channels through which certain information is supposed to be shared. These channels mainly involve passing of information to the person who is directly higher or lower than the specific party in the hierarchy of leadership of the company.

However, there is lack of effective communication in Simmons Laboratories. The arrival of Zapf breaks up the effective communication and understanding, which existed between Mr. Goh and Newbridge. Goh now confides more on Zapf with regard to the photon group instead of confiding to Newbridge, who headed the photon group. This makes Newbridge to feel his leadership is disregarded as Zapf provides information even regarding the performance of some of the members of the photon group. All this is being done despite the fact that Zapf is not the head of the photon group and was not present when the group was spearheaded to begin the project. Lack of effective communications therefore hinders Newbridge from freely expressing his ideas especially after informing Goh of the tension caused by Zapf presence in the group.

Serious individual differences between Newbridge and Zapf

When working within a team, individual differences will generally be exhibited within the team members. For instance, cognitive ability of Zapf is higher than that of the team members including the team leader, Newbridge. This may be beneficial to the group if well applied given that, the higher the cognitive ability of the team members, the higher the performance of the team (Thompson, n.d, p. 5). The cognitive ability of the members of the photon group was the same before the entry of Zapf into the group. This enabled the members to function effectively without creating factors, which would hinder the teamwork of the members.

In addition, there is a marked difference in the sociability of Zapf and the other members of the group. A higher ability to interact with the other members of the group usually increases the effectiveness of the team hence enabling them to achieve the desired outcomes (Thompson, n.d, p. 9). Before the entry of Zapf into the group, Newbridge used to interact freely with the members of the group as evidenced by the fact that the members could tell them of their personal affairs, such as the secretary who was telling him of her excitement due to her husband’s enrolment into a graduate school (Starbuck, n.d, p. 95). However, Zapf is not sociable to the members of the group, preferring to socialize only with Link, the mathematician and Goh, the overall head of the project. When Zapf finds fault in some of the members’ ability to work in the group, he directly informs Goh instead of informing Newbridge or the members directly.

The individual differences between Newbridge and Zapf lead to the disintegration of the group especially due to the fact that the management, the people who are funding the research, and other parties who are generally not part of the group regard Zapf highly. This makes Newbridge to feel unappreciated as the leader of the group, hence opting to quit his job at the Simmons Laboratories.

Group thinking

Group thinking refers to the situation where a group collectively agrees on certain issues in the group in order not to create disagreements in the group. Group thinking is mainly brought about by a lack of knowledge of the methodological procedures or the tendency of a group to demand quick answers to problems that it may be faced with (Guffey, Rogin and Rhodes, 2009, p. 32). The photon group’s group thinking is exhibited when the members come to the quick conclusion about a certain problem. This irritates Zapf who clearly points it out with disregard to the feelings of the other group members. Therefore, group thinking hinders the group from properly achieving the desired results of the work.

Solutions to the problems

Among the major problems that Simmons Laboratories is faced with include, lack of communication between the management and the employees who undertake the projects of the company. The other problem is lack of clear targets of the groups of the company.

To solve the problem of lack of proper communication, the company should come up with a strategy, which ensures that the group members are well informed of any additional member to the group.

The company should also ensure that it sets the goals for the groups involved in different projects for the company. This will prevent the group from viewing certain aspects of the project as unachievable.


The company should come with a system where the success of a project is not only credited to one person. The project should be wholly owned by the group that undertakes the project. The company can break up the project into sections and allocate each member of the group to the management of a certain part of the project. This will ensure the active participation of all the members of the group and prevent any person from “owning” the project. The members of the group who manage the parts of the project should also take part in the presentation of the parts themselves.

After allocating each group to a certain section of the project, the company should provide a timeline for the completion of the project. This will ensure that the members complete their parts in time, as they would not like to be the black sheep of the group due to the lack of completion of their portions in the required time hence making the project to lag behind in time. Application of the above strategy would enhance the communication of the group and help them achieve their goals in the required time.


In creation of the above strategy an assumption that all the members of the group have the intellectual capacity to lead certain parts of the project has been made. The other assumption made is that all the members have the required leadership skills, which would enable them to head the portions of the project.


The above problems threaten the survival of the photon group. It seems too late for the company to solve the problems as Newbridge who was the group leader leaves Simmons Laboratories to work for another company where his efforts will be appreciated. Moreover, Zapf, the person who led to the creation of most of the above problems, leaves the group to head another project, thus makes the photon group to face a bleak future. However, Simmons Laboratories can avoid future occurrence of the problem if it implement the above strategies.


Guffey M. E., Rogin, P. and Rhodes, K. (2009). Business Communication: Process and Product. OH: Cengage learning. Web.

Huszczo, G. E. (2004). Tools for team leadership: delivering the X-factor in team excellence. CA: Davies-Black Publishing. Web.

Lewis, J. P. (2004). Team-Based Project Management. Washington: Beard Books. Web.

Starbuck, W. (N.d). Case 12: Simmons laboratories. Web.

Thompson, M. M. (N.d). . Toronto: Defence research and development. Web.

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