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In Mixed Company Chapter Two. Groups as Systems. Systems. A system is a set of interconnected parts working together to form a whole in the context of a changing environment.

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In Mixed Company Chapter Two

Groups as Systems

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


Systems l.jpg
Systems

  • A system is a set of interconnected parts working together to form a whole in the context of a changing environment.

  • Input consists of resources that come from outside the system, such as energy, information and people. A system inevitable wears down without continuous input.

  • The wearing down process is called entropy-a measure of a system’s movement toward disorganization and eventual termination.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Systems-Continued

  • Throughput is the process of transforming input into output to keep the system functioning.

  • Input is transformed in a group by its members engaging in activities such as group discussion and creative problem solving.

  • The throughput process involves roles, rules, norms, power distribution, discussion procedures, and conflict management strategies.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Systems-Continued

  • Output comprises the continual results of the group’s throughput (transformation of input).

  • Group outputs include decisions made, solutions to problems created and implement, projects completed, group procedures modified, team member cohesiveness enhanced, member relationships improved, and so forth.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Ripple Effect: A Chain Reaction

  • In a system, one part can have a significant impact on the whole-the ripple effect.

  • Recognizing the significance of the ripple effect means paying close attention to your own impact on groups.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Synergy: One Plus One Equals a Ton

  • Synergy occurs when group performance from joint action of members exceeds expectations based on perceived abilities and skills of individual members.

  • Synergy is produced only when group members work in a cooperative interconnected way.

  • If group members work independently by completing individual assignments on their own and the group merely compiles the results without the benefit of group discussion and interaction, no synergy will occur.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Negative Synergy: Results Beyond Bad

  • Negative synergy occurs when group members working together produce a worse result than expected based on perceived individual skills and abilities of members.

  • The whole is worse than the sum of its parts.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Adaptability to Change

  • Systems are never in a static state. They are in a constant state of becoming until they terminate.

  • Groups with a similar or identical final goal may reach that end in highly divers ways (called equifinality in the somewhat ponderous systems lingo).

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Dynamic Equilibrium: Managing Stability and Change

  • There is no perfect balance point between stability and change in any system, but there is a range in which systems can manage change effectively to promote growth and success with pursing the system to disaster.

  • This range is called dynamic equilibrium, when it regulates the degree, rate, and the desirability of change, allowing stability and change to coexist.

  • Too much change (degree) was required in too concentrated a period of time (rate) without a concerted effort to persuade the staff of the value (desirability) of the changes demanded.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Boundary Control: Regulating Input

  • Openness refers to the degree of continuous interchange with the outside environment.

  • Adaptability to change is the adjustment of group boundaries in response to changing conditions. Boundaries regulate input and consequent exposure to change in a system.

  • Boundary control determines the amount of access a group has to input, and this influence, from outsiders.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Physical Barriers: Protecting Group Space

  • There are many possible physical barriers that can establish group boundaries.

    • Locked meeting doors or inconvenient locations etc.

    • Gangs may designate a few city blocs as their turf.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Psychological Barriers: Member in Name Only

  • Groups can make an individual feel that they do not belong in the group.

  • Such barriers occur when members’ contributions are ignored or they are treated as outcasts.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Linguistic Barriers: Having to Speak the Language

  • Groups put up linguistic barriers when members use private vocabulary, or argot, peculiar to specific group.

  • Those who understand the argot are presumed to be group members. Those who don’t are clearly outsiders.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Rules: Permission Not Granted

  • Membership rules establish who can join a group and who is barred. They also define appropriate behaviors in specified social situations.

  • Rules may specify who can talk to whom, thus controlling input from outside.

  • A role is a pattern of expected behavior associated with parts we play in groups.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Networks: Controlling Information Flow

  • Networks control the access and flow of information within the group, and they may also isolate the group from outside influences.

  • A network is a structured pattern of information flow and personal contact. The more open the network, the more accessible information is to a broad range of individuals.

  • Open networks encourage change; closed networks emphasize stability and permanence.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Boundary Control and Group Effectiveness: Open and Closed Systems

  • No group can long endure unless it closes off to some outside influences and restricts access to some information.

  • A group must close off when both the quantity and type of input place undue stress on the group and / or prevent it from accomplishing its task.

  • There are times for instance, when a family seeks advice and counsel from friends and relatives, but there are also times when a family should close itself off to intrusion from outsiders.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Group Size and Complexity Systems

  • Fluctuations in size have enormous influence on the structure and function of a group.

  • In a study investigating why groups fail, on notable factor was the difficulty of scheduling meetings when groups grew to eight members.

  • As the size of a group increases, the possible number of interactions between group members increases exponentially.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Group Size and Complexity (Continued) Systems

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Complexity and Group Transactions: Size Matters Systems

  • Larger groups typically have more non-participants than smaller groups. This occurs partly because in larger groups there is more intense competition to seize the floor.

  • More talkative members are likely to emerge as leaders of larger groups because influence on the group comes partly from speaking.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Complexity and Group Transactions: Size Matters (Continued) Systems

  • Smaller groups inhibit overt disagreement and signs of dissatisfaction more than larger groups.

  • Smaller groups can apply more intense pressure to conform to majority opinion than can be applied in larger groups.

  • Splinter groups and factions are more likely to emerge in larger groups.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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Complexity and Group Transactions: Size Matters (Continued) Systems

  • When groups of 12 to 30 members were compared, the smallest groups were found to be the mot cooperative meaning they worked together on tasks more interdependently, engaged in collaborative effort, and exhibited consensus leadership.

  • Larger groups encourage the formation of cliques or small, narrowly focused subgroups.

  • There is no ideal number of people that make a group, so competent communicators can work effectively in larger groups, although increased size magnifies the challenges.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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An Organization: SystemsA Group of Groups

  • When small groups grow into larger groups, finally graduating into complex organizations, the structure and function of these human systems change.

  • With increasing group size comes greater formality, small groups are more personal than large organizations.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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An Organization: SystemsA Group of Groups (Continued)

  • The flow of information is one of the most important differences between small groups and complex organizations.

  • Bad decision making cannot be hidden easily when the group is small.

  • Almost any blunder will become bright when the black hole of bureaucracy is not present to cover it.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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An Organization: SystemsA Group of Groups (Continued)

  • Information distortion usually is a bigger problem in organizations than in smaller groups.

  • Managers act as gatekeepers, selecting which ones will be brought to the attention of the higher-ups.

  • In smaller groups, the communication is usually more direct, with fewer opportunities for distortion, because messages are transmitted serially through several people.

  • The three main elements of a system are interconnectedness of parts, adaptability to change, and the influence of size. A small group is defined in terms of function, and the ideal size for most decision-making and problem-solving groups is the smallest group capable of performing the task effectively.

Speech 140 Chapter 2 Groups as Systems


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