13 – Collaborative Writing
Teamwork is a key component of almost any workplace, but it is essential in engineering and software development environments where you often find yourself working as part of a team on large projects. Imagine for a moment how many people must work together to design a product like the video game Minecraft (see the list of Credits for the team at Mojang Studios).
It is widely accepted that team synergy and team intelligence lead to greater efficiency and better results in most situations. Why, then, are some people reluctant to engage in teamwork? Perhaps this reluctance stems from ineffective or dysfunctional teamwork experiences in the past. Often the culprit in these situations is not a “poor team player” or an “inability to get along with others.” More likely it was caused by one of two things: misaligned goals or confusion over roles. For teamwork to be effective, all members of the team must understand and share the goals of the project, and all members must fully understand their roles, including what is expected of them and how they will be held accountable. An effective team leader or will make sure that goals and roles are fully understood by all team members.
In Designing Engineers, Susan McCahan et al. defines a as “a group of people who come together to work in an interrelated manner towards a common goal.” In other words, team members see themselves as part of a collective working towards a common goal rather than as individuals working on separate tasks that may lead to an end product. In order to work effectively, team members need to communicate clearly and constructively, and learn how to deal with crises and conflicts that will inevitably arise.
Some common benefits of working in teams include increased productivity, increased innovation, and increased efficiency. Excellent teams have synergy that makes them more than simply the sum of their parts. The term refers to how collectively teams have more knowledge and skill than the single individuals working separately.
This text was derived from
Last, Suzan, with contributors Candice Neveu and Monika Smith. Technical Writing Essentials: Introduction to Professional Communications in Technical Fields. Victoria, BC: University of Victoria, 2019. https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/technicalwriting/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
- Susan McCahan, Phil Anderson, Mark Kortschot, Peter E. Weiss, Kimberly A. Woodhouse, “Introduction to Teamwork,” in Designing Engineers: An Introductory Text, (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2015), 220. ↵
A person on a team who acts as the hub for communication and tasks. This person helps provide direction and guidance for the team.
Group of people who come together to work in an interrelated manner towards a common goal.
Refers to the way teams collectively have more knowledge and skill than the single individuals working separately.