Evangelizing Mainframe
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Your Role With Destination z

Put the candles on the cake: Destination z is celebrating five years as an open community for mainframes. I’ve been writing blogs for Destination z since its beginning and I served as one of the first to be featured in the Members Spotlight section. We all know what mainframes are, but what do we mean by community?

I guess the best definition of a community is the “condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common,” according to Your Dictionary That definitely works for Destination z, a place where people share their ideas and information about mainframes and there are articles and blogs as well as a forum area that lets you “tap into mainframe knowledge from industry experts and your peers.”

A community is comprised of multiple groups of people split into primary and secondary groups. Primary groups are clusters of people like families or close friends where there is close, face-to-face interaction. Secondary groups are those in which members are rarely, if ever, in direct contact. By this definition, Destination z is a secondary group. Groups can also be split by whether they’re planned or emergent. Planned groups are specifically formed for some purpose. Emergent groups come into being relatively spontaneously when people find themselves together in the same place. Destination z was clearly a planned group. The good thing about groups like Destination z is that they enable people to develop a sense of identity and belonging and allows them to deepen their knowledge, skills, values and attitudes.

Team Roles

For any group to work well, it needs a variety of people who each play different roles. Being a good Destination z group member means that you need to be committed to the group and make contributions that play to your strengths. Meredith Belbin defined a “team role” as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way” and came up with nine team roles that underlie team success. [[LINK: belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles ]] Belbin’s nine team roles are divided into three broad categories: action-oriented roles, people-oriented roles and thought-oriented roles.

  • Action-oriented roles include: the shaper, who challenges the team to improve, is dynamic and usually extroverted and enjoys stimulating others but may be argumentative; the implementer, who gets things done and turns the team’s ideas and concepts into practical actions and plans but may be inflexible and somewhat resistant to change; and the completer-finisher, who ensures projects are completed thoroughly and pays attention to the smallest of details but finds it hard to delegate.
  • The people-oriented roles include: the coordinator, who is the traditional team-leader or chairman and is naturally able to recognize the value of each team member but may tend to be manipulative; the team worker, who provides support, flexibility, diplomacy and perceptivity but tends to be indecisive; and the investigator, who is innovative and curious, outgoing and extroverted and often overly optimistic.
  • The thought-oriented roles include: the plant, who is the creative innovator that comes up with new ideas and approaches but can be impractical at times); the monitor-evaluator, who is good at analyzing other peoples’ ideas and is shrewd and objective but often is perceived as detached or unemotional; and the specialist, who has specialized knowledge that is needed to get the job done and prides themselves on their skills and abilities but is preoccupied with technicalities at the expense of the bigger picture.
Thinking of Belbin’s model and Destination z, I wonder which roles you play in the group?

Will Schutz developed Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behaviour (FIRO-B). The FIRO team roles are the:

  • Clarifier, who presents issues or solutions for clarification
  • Tension-reducer, who helps move the team along by joking)
  • Individualist, who isn’t an active team player
  • Director, who pushes for action and decision-making
  • Questioner, who seeks orientation and clarification
  • Rebel, who struggles to establish a position within the group
  • Encourager, who builds the ego or status of others
  • Listener, who maintains a participatory attitude and interest nonverbally
  • Cautioner, who expresses concern about the direction of the group
  • Initiator, who suggests procedures or problems as discussion topics
  • Energizer, who urges the team toward decision-making
  • Opinion-giver, who states a belief or opinion on all problems and issues
  • Harmonizer, who reconciles opposing positions
  • Consensus-tester, who checks for agreement)
  • Task-master, who tries to keep the group focused on its central purpose
Again, which one might you be?

Peter Honey suggested that there were five team roles including the:

  • Leader, who ensures that the team has clear objectives and makes sure everyone is involved and committed
  • Challenger, who questions effectiveness and presses for improvement and results
  • Doer, who urges the team to get on with the job in hand and does practical tasks
  • Thinker, who produces carefully considered ideas and weighs up and improves ideas from others
  • Supporter, who eases tension and maintains team harmony
Which role do you play from this list?

It’s worth noting that in any group, group norms are basically the rules of conduct indicating what attitudes and behavior might be expected or demanded in particular situations. They are shared expectations of behaviour that set up what is desirable and appropriate in a particular group. A group norm doesn’t refer to what is likely to occur, but what members think should occur.

Your Role

The Destination z community is a group of individuals sharing attitudes and having a common interest. And there are expectations (norms) of how people will behave when using the website. There are also a number of roles that members of the community could adopt and a huge overlap between Belbin, FIRO-B and Honey’s classifications. Whichever type of member you are, don’t forget to wish happy birthday to Destination z.

Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd, an IT consultancy. A popular speaker and blogger, he currently chairs the Virtual IMS and Virtual CICS user groups. He’s editorial director for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, and has been an IBM Champion every year since 2009.

Posted: 7/19/2016 12:30:20 AM by Trevor Eddolls | with 0 comments

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