Group Dynamics – a resource for business or just a dog’s life?

UnknownInteraction, collaboration, being a part of the pack. That is what it is all about when we come to discussions of implementing the Social Business Philosophy in our organizations. It is all about the individuals and how they interact on the group.

I have been so lucky that I have taken care of three dogs the last weeks. One of them is my own dachs Charlie, the other two are my sisters dachs Emmy and my step daughters dachs puppy Mia. Three totally different individuals with different personalities, social skills, energy levels and different focus.

It has been a pleasure to study the group dynamics when they walk together, feed, play and sleep. Emmy being a loner holding back when the other two plays, sleeping in her own cave most of the night except for an hour each night when she jumps into my bed, where my own dog Charlie always sleeps.

I have also been watching her walk around Charlies food tray after she has finished her own meal, waiting for him to go so she can jump in to feed on what he has left behind. He is a slow feeder, but he protects his food. She waits in respectful distance after having done some stunts forward before he was finished. He gave her some really explicit warnings!

The young one, Mia, is like most kids trying to stretch her limits all the time. Full of energy and guts, but lacking the experiences and wisdom that comes with age and routines.

I also watch them while we go walking, both on the pavements and in the woods. I see how they change their position in the pack depending on the situation. Meeting other dogs Charlie takes the lead and walks up front from his usual position in the back where he makes sure the other two is moving in the right direction. Mia, the youngster, normally takes lead on the pavements, while Emmy keeps in the middle and stays close to me.

Walking in the woods then, they suddenly take more individual positions, but stay together within a circle of 2 – 3 meters, and follow my walking speed. Except when they find some exiting spot to smell.

Why do I write about dogs when I want to discuss group dynamics? Well, I see a lot of similar group dynamics between people. Some are leaders and moves ahead overloaded with energy and eagerness, but too often without the wisdom and personal insight that – hopefully – more experienced people have.

Motivation, motivation, motivation. You must make them want to work in a different way than they used to.
Motivation, motivation, motivation. You must make them want to work in a different way than they used to.

When doing adoption of social business work methods in organizations I see the same patterns of my pack’s group dynamic. Some understand why they should change working behavior and learns fast and move ahead a bit bored because the other participants are slower. Others are falling a bit behind and don’t seem to keep up in the skill development. They need to repeat and repeat to make sure they understand not only how but why they should do so and so.

Those in the middle partly understand how and why, but really needs to understand and accept what is in it for them. What is the reason and what will they personally achieve by changing work behavior and use a new collaboration technology.

My job, in both cases, both the dogs and the people, is to respect their individuality, to let them use their individual personalities, their strongest skills and channel it to become a resource and a power for the whole group – the pack.

Seeing how this group dynamic creates a solid and powerful unit walking in the same direction and towards the same goal – is probably the most exciting experiences both professionally and personal. Especially when that inner feeling of value, meaning and being part of something bigger than myself begins to take over and we all become a massive and powerful, energized unit moving forward – then you feel unbeatable.

This is part of what I define as Social Business.