‘Grouping’ as a Verb…
Group Management activities should facilitate ‘good grouping.’ So what does that mean? By ‘good grouping,’ we are not talking about target shooting outcomes! We want to talk about ‘good grouping’ from a different perspective. So let’s look at the word group. Group can be used as a noun when talking about a group of people or things. A group, in that sense, refers to collections of objects; things that are assembled together. For instance “There is a group of penguins over there.”
Group can also be used as a transitive verb meaning to combine things into a collection. In this context, group is an action word used when someone or something is combining objects together. For example, ‘The photographer grouped the penguin photos into an album.’
There is a third and very powerful use of the word. ‘Group’ can also be used as an ‘intransitive verb.’ In this case, things can be said to ‘group’ together, or belong to a group. For instance, ‘Penguins instinctively group to protect their eggs.’ In this case, the penguins group themselves because they have a shared purpose. The notion of ‘grouping’ seems natural to many species and worthy of attention. This is such a great concept!
Why do humans group?
Humans are social creatures and innately need to feel a part of a social structure/organization/group. Families and neighborhoods tend to group organically. Grouping structures may be as sophisticated as international social justice initiatives. The nature of the group, itself, is not the point. Humans tend to organize themselves for purposeful activities and the array of human activity is vast! Some groups are solely intended to support their membership in some way, while other groups bind individuals together to accomplish goals that are externally focused. Often, individual identity can be a function of belonging to a group. We derive our internal sense of who are are, and even our external image from our group alignment. So, what draws us to and keeps us engaged in groups?
Individuals need to know about the group to experience ‘grouping’ as a satisfying activity. It is critical to understand objectives and the rules of interaction. This may be intuitive or a more formal exercise, but it is necessary for members to experience belonging. Knowing the Why and the How, matters at some level. Let’s return to the penguins for a moment…
Penguins group together in the same spot every year. They huddle closely together and hold the eggs off the ice with their feet. This optimizes the warmth of the standing penguins and the eggs. Now obviously, Mother Nature has a great Group Management plan. No random batch of penguins goes off and set up an ‘exclusive’ alternative location for egg hatching. Likewise, penguins do not just decide they will roll the eggs around on the ice for amusement. They innately group well. Penguin parents execute the needed behaviors for the effective outcomes. They are biologically wired with the Why and the How.
What brings about ‘Good Grouping’?
It is our contention that social structures/organizations who group well have effective Group Management activities. These organizations have at least three common characteristics.
- The group achieves their purpose/goals.
- Members experience satisfaction.
- Members are willing to put forth the effort (They sense that what they put in justifies what they get out.)
Often, groups thrive because they have established a clarity of purpose and learned to communicate effectively. Grouping well means that processes in place that allow the group to achieve the desired outcomes. Additionally, members judge the effort needed to achieve this well-understood outcomes as ‘worth it.’ Participants are part of a structure that meets their needs and allows them to feel fulfilled. As mentioned before, the variety of human endeavor is infinite. People may find satisfaction in being part of a sports league, a golf club, a political action committee or a book club. The need to belong is met for the individual by the group. Individuals put forth energy /effort needed by the group. Everyone wins.
This is not to say that all individuals in the group relate well to each other! Effective Group Management activities allow the group to succeed despite personalities. Clarity of purpose keeps the energy focused on the goal. Consistent and effective communication within the group allows effort to be channeled on the goal of the group, instead of ‘grouping’! Humans may not hatch their eggs as a community, but the effort and energy of good groups can absolutely create great places to raise chicks!
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