Words of Wisdom from Wilbert Harrison

Wilbert Harrison
Wilbert Harrison says that we need to work together. Photo credit: Discovery Records

Many of you are probably wondering, “Who in the world is Wilbert Harrison?” He wrote the song, “Let’s Work Together”, and now you hear the song (George Thorogood’s remake of it) being played in commercials. The song starts out, “Together we stand, divided we fall. Come on people, let’s get on the ball. Let’s work together.” I believe this song should serve as the motto or mantra for all group projects.

Communication is key. Everything should be planned out in the beginning. First, figure out times and locations for meetings. It is best to meet often, and a convenient time must be chosen for everyone to be “on the same page”. At each meeting, assign everyone’s roles. Choose some responsible people to lead the group. Assign co-leaders, if needed. Never place a heavy burden on one of your teammates. Divide the load. Ask to see what people are willing to do and what their strengths are. You never want any member to be lost.

Rick Agran believes that a mission statement is important for a group project. It is supposed to guide us and “define our sense of purpose”. The mission statement is also supposed to reflect the goals of each individual. How do you write a good mission statement? Agran said, “Focus on the values or outcomes rather than what specific tactics. Explain what the story is going to accomplish.”

That may be challenging, but groups need to be prepared to overcome any obstacle that may be thrown at them. Sometimes, “Plan A” does not work, and then the group needs to improvise. There will be times where a member may not be able to make a meeting or hold their end of the bargain. However, you cannot let that destroy the mission. Going back to the song, “United we stand, divided we fall,” teamwork is the most important element for a group project. Listen to Harrison’s words of wisdom. Everyone needs to collaborate and participate. Help each other out. Bounce ideas off one another. Brainstorm a list together like on the show House. For journalism projects, figure out what the people do not know. Also figure out what they want to know.

In group projects, the key word is group. If there is no unity, then members will be lost, and the goals of the mission statement will not be achieved. Agran said, “Make sense of things while your reporting is fresh in your mind.” Well, as a group leader, make sense of things when delegating tasks to one another. Simplify what is expected of the group, when ready for the next step. These assignments are never easy, but working as a team makes it easier.

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