2 What is Small Group Interaction? GlossaryCase StudyA DefinitionEmpowermentA Conceptual Orientation for Small GroupsThe Systems Approach
3 GlossaryCycles—characterized by the results of group interaction being fed back to the group and becoming input for future interactions. For example, a team’s success adds strength to the group’s cohesion in future activities.Differentiation—the specialization that occurs among people in small group communication.Dynamic Equilibrium—reached at a point at which the forces to change and the forces to resist change are equal.Empowerment—a leadership style that enables group members to utilize their talents, abilities, and knowledge more effectively.
4 GlossaryEquifinality—the potential for adaptation that groups possess. This allows for various possible approaches to achieve a goal.Feedback—information groups receive and use to modify themselves.Input—the raw material of small group interaction. It includes the six relevant background factors: personality, gender, age, health, attitudes, and values. It also includes information the group receives from outside the group.Integration—in small group communication, integration is synonymous with organization. It is the coordination of the various parts of the group.
5 GlossaryNegative Entropy—entropy is characterized by all systems moving toward disorganization or death. Negative entropies are the forces that maintain the organization of a system.Output—includes solutions, interpersonal relations, improved information flow, risk taking, intrapersonal growth, and organization change. It is sometimes called the end result of group interaction.Throughput—refers to all the actual verbal and nonverbal behaviors that occur in the course of a group discussion.
6 GlossaryVirtual Teams—teams in which members communicate with each other through computers and may or may not be located near one another.
7 Case Study “Let’s Roll” 1. What does this case study tell you about the potential influence that groups can have on individual behavior?2. Identify and discuss as many examples as you can that you have observed of group influence on college students’ behaviors.3. From your own experience, how do you think that groups can be used to have positive influences on college students? What about people in other age groups?4. What would you most like to learn from this course?5. What expectations or concerns do you have?
8 A Definition Small group interaction Team The process by which three or more members of a group exchange verbal and nonverbal messages in an attempt to influence one another.Team“A high performance task group whose members are actively interdependent and share common performance objectives” (Francis and Young, 1992, p. 9).
9 A Definition Why Study Small Groups? Modern organizations are undergoing a radical transformation designed to better utilize human potential, primarily through the increased use of small groups.Small groups can help you in college.Learning to work effectively in small groups can save you time and money.Few leaders in today’s complex society can succeed on their own without the help of competent and committed team members.
10 EmpowermentModern organizations are basing multibillion-dollar decisions, in part, on the use of teams.EmpowermentA leadership style that enables the leader to utilize more effectively the talents, abilities, and knowledge of others and, at the same time, to increase his or her available time to work on more strategic activities.
11 Empowerment Empowerment has certain inherent advantages: Greater productivityQuicker response to problemsImproved quality of communication between groupsIncreased individual motivationImproved overall organizational effectiveness
12 EmpowermentKirkman and Rosen (1999) found evidence that empowerment has four very closely related dimensions:PotencyMeaningfulnessAutonomyImpact
13 Empowerment—Practical Tips Ten of the most common mistakes to avoid when trying to create teams.1. Starting team training without first assessing team needs.2. Confusing team building with team work.3. Failing to have a plan for developing the team.4. Assuming that teams are basically all alike.5. Sending team members to team training individually rather than collectively.
14 Empowerment—Practical Tips Ten of the most common (continued)6. Failing to hold teams accountable for their accomplishments.7. Treating team building as a program rather than as a process.8. Relying on training alone to develop effective teams.9. Not getting the ground rules straight at the beginning.10. Having an outside facilitator/consultant lead the team (Huszczo, 1996, pp ).
15 A Conceptual Orientation for Small Groups Small group interaction is very complicated and involves a large number of factors that act and interact simultaneously.These factors are in continual state of flux.
17 The Systems ApproachAn open system such as a group is defined as an organized set of interrelated and interacting parts that attempts to maintain its own balance amid the influences of its surrounding environment.The consequences, or outputs, of the group are fed back into the system through the feedback loop.Systems analysis has become a particularly popular way of analyzing human behavior in organizations.
18 The Systems ApproachGross (1995, p. 113) identifies four phenomena characteristic of open systems:1. Entries and exits, which transform outsiders into members and members into outsiders.2. Multiple membership, which results in members’ loyalties to outside groups.3. Resource exchange, which involves the absorption of inputs in the production process and in the delivery of output produced.4. Mutual or reciprocal influence on the part of both members and outsiders.
19 General Systems Concepts A system that has inputs from outside is called an open system.Throughput includes the process of creating and modifying ideas in the course of a discussion.Groups often have an ongoing life history, during which outputs, or consequences, are continually being modified on the basis of continuing interaction.
20 The Systems ApproachThe feedback loop represents the cyclical and ongoing nature of group processes.The process does not begin and end anew with each group meeting, but rather builds on all the past experiences of each group member.All systems eventually move toward disorganization or death.To combat this, a system must employ negative entropy.
21 The Systems ApproachAll systems must receive feedback to modify themselves.In groups, we each decide whether or not membership is worth what we are putting into it.In groups, different people gravitate toward certain roles.It is a rare group in which all members’ attitudes are the same toward any topic.
22 The Systems ApproachAs groups and organizations become more complex and differentiated, the need for integration and coordination of the various parts increases.Without integration, the group or organization becomes chaotic.
24 The Systems Approach: The Tubbs Model The Tubbs Model of Small Group Interaction:Helps students grasp the conceptual overview.Shows the dynamic interactive nature of all the variables in the model and avoids the cause- and-effect thinking of earlier models.Explicitly shows how consequences, or outputs, of one small group experience can become background factors or inputs for the next group experience.
25 The Systems Approach: The Tubbs Model Relevant Background FactorsPersonalitiesAgeHealthValues
26 The Systems Approach: The Tubbs Model Internal InfluencesPhysical environmentType of groupStatus and powerLeadershipGroup normsDecision makingConflict
27 The Systems Approach: The Tubbs Model ConsequencesSolutions to problems.Improvements in interpersonal relations.Improvements in the flow of information between and among people.Organizational change.
28 The Systems Approach: The Tubbs Model—Practical Tips Peter Senge at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers the following applications of the systems approach.1. Think in systems.2. See interrelationships, not things, and processes, not snapshots.3. Move beyond blame.4. Focus on area of high leverage.5. Avoid symptomatic solutions (Senge, in Costin, 1996, pp ).