I took part in the T-shirt challenge. The challenge focused on branding, which entailed the design of a T-shirt, with a planning sheet for a supposed budget and a full description of the process, costs and profit. My team was dedicated to developing a fancy T-shirt with graphic designs that focused on the identification and targeting customers of a local coffee shop. Initially, the team leaders delegated tasks to subgroups that would work to meet the ultimate goal of the team. It was challenging for the team leaders to delegate tasks; however, the ensured that we all participated in the areas that we were interested in, as effective teams have been found to match member’s task to their interests and skills (García et al., 2016 p.7). The leaders’ success was leveraged by preparing a planning sheet and a spreadsheet with each members skills, experiences, interests, and objectives for the challenge. My role entailed advising both the client (the local coffee shop) and the team about the best designs that would meet the challenge objective. After conducting a literature review and a simple survey, I found that a branding business is exciting and vast. Successful branding businesses find a niche, design t-shirt for clients in that niche, do the printing and validating the designs for themselves, and have a robust online presence.
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The challenge was exciting since besides working to meet both the teams’ goals and objectives, we applied the skills learned from the course. For instance, I noted the importance of effective communication skills in business and project management. As explained by Bucăţa and Rizescu (2017), effective communication ensured that all members knew their roles and that all messages were delivered timely and had clarity. We had a communication strategy, where all teams updated their progress to a secretary through a chatbox. The secretary recorded the progress on a spreadsheet and updated the leaders, who then updated the whole team on an updates feature of the chatbox. The team leaders were diligent in ensuring all members had sufficient momentum for the challenge. For instance, when some members had slow progress, they motivated them and offered assistance. I think that is a critical aspect of emotional intelligence, where team leaders lead and support weak members to enhance their performance (Jamshed, Abu Bakar and Nazri, 2018 p.23).
Besides, during the norming stage of team development, we dedicated our commitment to ensuring the success of the primary idea for the team – teamwork. Therefore, we would work collaboratively towards the goals and objectives of the team. Each of the subgroups had at least two members, who worked on individual tasks – part of the whole challenge. That ensured complimenting for each members weaknesses and strengths, and as explained by Baker, Day and Salas (2006), reliability for each person on the task they undertook. For instance, two team members and I were tasked to identify the exciting designs that would hook customers. I am confident, but not very fluent. Thus, I would approach and do the introduction when doing the survey, but my teammates would make the pitch or ask questions in details, which I am not perfect. In that, teamwork played a critical role to complement individual weaknesses and strengths and ensured the whole team completed milestones timely.
The challenge exposed all of us into how businesses ran and gave us a first-hand experience in business skills such as presentation skills, meeting skills and use of spreadsheets. For instance, I took part in pitching the branding idea to the local coffee shop. The presentation was work for several days to ensure it conveyed the intended message correctly and persuasively. We made sure to present some premade designs (see the appendix), to foster confidence for the prospective client. Also, ensuring the team maintained a focus on the goals and objectives of the challenge, we attended regular meetings. Every member would participate in enhancing convergence of teams strengths, which is leveraged by brainstorming (Seeber, de Vreede, Maier and Weber, 2017 p.940). Also, we learned the importance of records, such as monitoring progress using spreadsheets.
However, we experienced some problems with time management and meeting skills. For instance, not all teams could make deliverables timely, which delayed the general updates for the team. Although team leaders pushed such individuals, it would have been much better to ease team management and ensure quality deliverables. Also, although participation in meetings was mandatory, some members are not very expressive, or others took more time focusing on unimportant points.
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I look forward to developing skills concerning the business, time management, meeting, communication, and teamwork. As this was the first significant project that I have undertaken, I will join many other challenges in future. I look forward to participating in at least two school projects and take a part time job where I will learn more about branding, marketing, and management in the remaining part of my university. I will take part in different roles, to learn, apply, and practice these skills. I will also use lessons learned to improve in future experience. For instance, I will work to ensure timely delivery and avoid jargons when participating in meetings. Mallet, Nelson and Steiner (n.d.) explain that eliminating jargon enables saving time and making a meaningful contribution in meetings.
A sample of a premade T-shirt:
Baker, D., Day, R. and Salas, E., 2006. Teamwork as an Essential Component of High-Reliability Organizations. Health Services Research, 41(4p2), pp.1576-1598.
Bucăţa, G. and Rizescu, A., 2017. The Role of Communication in Enhancing Work Effectiveness of an Organization. Land Forces Academy Review, 22(1), pp.49-57.
García, M., López, C., Molina, E., Casas, E. and Morales, Y., 2016. Development and evaluation of the team work skill in university contexts. Are virtual environments effective?. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 13(1).
Jamshed, S., Abu Bakar, R. and Nazri, M., 2018. Emotionally Intelligent Teams : Can Emotional Intelligence Enhance Performance. Kuwait Chapter of Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 7(1), pp.23-33.
Mallet, M., Nelson, B. and Steiner, C., n.d. The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2012/01/26/the-most-annoying-pretentious-and-useless-business-jargon/#64a32ca72eea> [Accessed 25 October 2020].
Seeber, I., de Vreede, G., Maier, R. and Weber, B., 2017. Beyond Brainstorming: Exploring Convergence in Teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 34(4), pp.939-969.