Survival tactics for groups in a hurry
Fast Start is a condensed version of the full preparation process, 'Time to Prepare .' If you're tempted to skip this stage, don't. Lack of preparation is a predictor of group work problems.
From individual to group
You begin this preparatory work as an individual and end by contributing as a member of a group. You can do the 3 Fast Start exercises in one meeting or spread them over 2 meetings. The three steps are:
- A coordinator (or facilitator) for this meeting who volunteers or is nominated.
- A recorder who will write the record of each meeting.
- A meeting record sheet  (PDF)
Instead of everyone making their own introduction, you may like to try this version: interview one other person, finding out these things about them:
- What they like about group work
- What they dislike about group work
- The strengths they bring to the group
- The weaknesses they bring to the group
Then introduce the person to the rest of the group, summarising their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. This calls on your own skills of listening, speaking and synthesis.
Facilitator, Recorder, Group Record Sheet.
You can do these straight after the Introductions exercise.
Get Fast Start Expectations exercise  (PDF) , either in electronic or print form.
Facilitator leads short discussion based on checklist items. Everyone's expectations are written on board or paper. Group members can question one another's expectations and explain their own. Non-defensive, non-critical communication works here.
Consider individual needs
Think about each other's needs. Do some people have particular work or family commitments? Is access to computers or other support services a problem for anyone? A non-English speaking background might need special consideration; so might returning to study after a long absence.
Recorder keeps the record of the meeting on Meeting Record Sheet  (PDF). Complete the record, then save a hard copy or an electronic version.
This is a crucial step, in which you plan how you're going to do the assignment together. At the end of this process you all sign the contract. It's more than ceremonial (though have a ceremony by all means): it locks your work agreement into place. Now there's a solid foundation on which to tackle the group task.
Facilitator, Recorder, Meeting record sheet.
- Download a copy of the Contract  (PDF)
- Facilitator leads group discussion on items in contract. The contract items are:
- The assignment
- How often you'll meet
- Where you'll meet
- How long the meetings will last
- Group rules
- Milestones and deadlines
- Who will do what.
The Contract document contains a Help Sheet.