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Social Capital
Forming Effective Teams
I had a blog post written and ready to publish this morning on the impact of project based learning, however, I will postpone that blog until next Monday. Instead, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on a conversation I observed between current parent Ron Jonash and the Social Entrepreneurship class Wednesday morning. Jonash, who has extensive experience working with social enterprise and entrepreneurship as a co-author of the Hult Prize and Director of the XLI-Center shared his thoughts on the world of social enterprise, and specifically on the importance of how an entrepreneurship team works together.

Jonash noted that in the world of business, investing in the team is as important as investing in an idea. So how do we ensure our ‘team’ is as solid as our ‘product’. No one will argue (at least no one I have met) with our educational model of experiential learning infused into classrooms both on- and off-campus. However, it is the implementation of that model that allows Proctor to distinguish itself.

Obviously at school like Proctor, teams play a crucial role in all facets of life: athletics, dormitories, advisories, classes, group projects, teaching departments, faculty as a whole, and even the administrative team. We are constantly operating in teams, especially in the academic realm, and the success of those classes depends largely on how we approach our interaction with others.

Dr. Edward DeBono made famous the concept of ‘The 6 Hats’ when establishing effective teams by working to ensure each ‘hat’, or skill set, is represented. To have a creative person (Green Hat) on your team is tremendous, and even better if that creative person works alongside someone passionate about the issue (Red Hat). Add in the process-oriented (Blue Hat) and the positive Yellow Hat and the group will be full of optimism and efficiency. However, despite the logical, creative passion that can emanate from those individuals, it is equally important to have the balance of the White Hat (information/data driven person) and Black Hat (a voice of caution and hesitation) on a team. DeBono explains his philosophy in the short video below: 

One of Proctor’s greatest strengths is its diversity of personalities (both among students and faculty), but with whom are we surrounding ourselves? As professionals? Students? Teammates? Take a few minutes to ask yourself which hat you wear most often. Is it the right hat to make your team as effective as it can be? Are you able to recognize (and appreciate) the hats of others and figure out which hat your team might be lacking in order to operate efficiently. Are you willing to embrace different types of personalities when crafting your team, or do you simply surround yourself with people just like you?

We like what our team looks like when it is filled with different types of people, when healthy tension exists and when individuals challenge each other's way of thinking.
Classes provide a tremendous opportunity for teamwork, but diversity of personalities is key to creating an effective shared learning experience.
Understanding who you are as a learner, and how your personality meshes with those around you, allows you to find your place on your team, whether that team be in a class, on the athletic field, in advisory or in your dormitory.
Moreover, we must work to surround ourselves with students (and faculty) who are able to identify what a team needs and then fill that void in order to ensure our team is an effective one.
Our challenge to you: identify which 'hat' you wear and surround yourself with others of different colored hats. See what happens to the team you have assembled...effective teamwork can come in the most unlikely of places!