You know that feeling, when your chin hits your chest. You let out a deep sigh and think to yourself, not again. That was me every time I walk into class, and the professor announces another group project. As my professor explains the instructions in the background, I would often wonder what is the purpose of these stupid projects. The assignments rarely related to my major, and my teammates were often in different fields of study. However, as a result of this global work experience, I recognized the true value of those seemingly, useless projects.
Through Ohio State’s Global Projects Program, I spent May of 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden working on a global consulting project for BSH Northern Europe. Before departing for Sweden, and being the impatient person that I am, I dove head first, alone, into the project. I conducted research and ideated solutions, all without consulting my team. When we finally arrived in-country, I felt confident that I knew exactly what to do. Discussing the project scope with my team, I realized I had the wrong idea from the start, and most of the work I had done beforehand was obsolete.
I was disheartened by this realization, but was happy to catch the issue early on. Beyond readjusting my interpretation of the scope, I discovered the true value of working on a team. Through constant communication among teammates, we were able to keep each other on track. Whether it be a mental block or a lack of motivation, my team provided me the much-needed push to continue. Although it felt slow at times discussing every idea with one another, it turned out to be extremely valuable because our biggest breakthroughs came from these discussions. Once everyone adjusted to the team’s workflow, we were performing very efficiently.
It was also very surprising to see BSH’s emphasis on collaboration. Throughout the entire project, we were constantly having meetings with different people in the company. Every week there were meetings with entire departments to discuss current and future initiatives. Everyone seemed to be aware of what people across the organization was doing, from within the Sweden office to the headquarters in Germany.
My biggest takeaway from the four week in-country project experience is that teamwork and collaboration make for great work. Looking back at all those dreaded group projects throughout the years, I can now understand why they was such a point of emphasis by our teachers and professors. The lessons those projects provided were more on the soft skills of working with others than the actual application of whatever concept was taught.
It is easy to fall into the trap of working alone, especially when you can finish the work faster without your team. Putting the frustration aside, it is almost always better to have someone catch your missteps or disagree with your idea. With this newly instilled mentality on teamwork, I look forward to working with others on future works.