Of groups and biking …


It’s almost end of first month of New Year (30/Jan/2011). Somehow I woke up thinking of penning down my best biking experience I had back in late July 2010, since there were no plans till later in the day and since its Sunday I can cut down on my daily water usage ;) I was free. Opening up the blog editor I found this finished yet unpublished draft of my biggest misadventure of life. Maybe I was angry and frustrated still because this episode probably ended my interest in writing blogs altogether.

I have the prudent way of completing things I love, so finally I am putting this up just so that I can write about more interesting things that have left to wait due to this.

Effective teamwork will not take the place of knowing how to do the job or how to manage the work. Poor teamwork, however, can prevent effective last performance. And it can also prevent team members from gaining satisfaction in being a member of a team and the organization. – Robert F. Bales

Group and biking

Group ConformityFailure is quite interesting; it instills positives like feeling of wanting it even more, or puts you in the analytic mode being critical to components of failure or the negativity associated with human failings. What happens when you fail without being the cause to account for? And you envision it before it happens? Call it gut feeling or whatever in the beginning of first day just near Pathankot, during the run in on those remote village by lanes in pitch dark along with all new folks and a few old timers, my mind ruffled with uncertainty. To make matters bad to worse all that could have gone wrong did on the first day itself, the creation of fault lines through misunderstanding to a downright ego. Well, that set the pace for our biggest motorcycle adventure to Leh Ladakh.

I was feeling to have been left out of the loop in a sense, that this was a serious biking trip, after all its almost like a last frontier for all adventure bikers in India a place to attempt at least once in their lifetime. This set me thinking for a while which resulted in this…

My beef was the group and its components…

This is what dictionary throws at you for the word ‘group’.

“Group – Collection of people who have regular contact and frequent interaction, mutual influence, common feeling of camaraderie, who work together to meet a common set of goals.”

Sounds just like a biking group to begin with, but how do we define the person in this? The one who is a part of the whole confined within the bounds of the group and intrabonds of other people. What are the bounds? And how much is one’s freedom to ingress it? How you as an individual are free to express yourself in your own way? And how is your expression limited within the confines of naught jeopardizing the common goal of the group? It mostly sounds like Asimov’s Law’s for a Robot.

The 1940 Laws of Robotics

  • First Law:  A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • Second Law: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Replacing robot and human with a ‘fellow biker’ and biker will bring an interesting dimension to the group. Such laws or in human’s case ‘responsibilities’ are subjected to a few common types according to individual’s dedicated or imposed specialty, such as a navigator, an accountant, a motivator and ‘a single group leader’ or more than one, or in a truly democratic group all heads are the same? Heck what can be explored into a tangible responsibility and what into power? When are you in a group?

Great!! Group, whole, bounds and authority, now that makes it a tough mix in the world of a chronic biker. Biker the one who sees world as the larger playground to live, experience explore and eventually forget to remember the path treaded before.

“The productivity of a work group seems to depend on how the group members see their own goals in relation to the goals of the organization.”  – Ken Blanchard

Group decision-making…

Group decision makingIdeally a serious group puts in efforts to bring in new members if needed to not affect the balance of the joint whole. The balance of ‘enjoyability’, among themselves and others whom the group interacts. I would rather put this as a common human failing that we can’t stop liking or otherwise the fellow member based on what they seem to us under perceived circumstances of achieving a common goal. Interesting scenarios occur when one mixes a whole new set of members previously unknown.

Given that both will have different means to the same end, their tendency towards the same goal in exactly similar way will be quite doubtful, mostly because group members are like gears of a machine built to run in at certain predefined threads which will be unique to that body, that run in is mostly a cause and effect of earlier collaborations. Which in the most certain way cannot be repeated as same for two different groups even under similar conditions?

How grievous is it for those members who are not agreeing upon to a certain decision but had to swallow it because numbers are not on their side? This is also irrelevant to the fact that sometimes decisions can be highly controversial, the adage of faith in group decision is probably the singular most stumbling block under such circumstances, of which I was in minority I don’t think I can explain the weird rational with the decision to haul back home when we were just under 120 km from our main aim after beating off 1300 km, clearly I was let down by group conformity.

“Group conformity scares me because it’s so often a prelude to cruelty towards anyone who doesn’t want to — or can’t — join the Big Parade.”

Group aimsThere was lot this makeshift group did wrong, from getting up really late to getting ready late to leisurely lunches to frequent uncalled for breaks, but hardly something right to make this trip a success, including a major setback leading them to start disbelieving in their own ability to face danger. It’s quite funny that the people who were involved in that horrific crash went ahead to visit Ladakh, clearly We need lot wider understanding and humongous patience to deal with immaturity in the group.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the fuel that allows common people to meet uncommon results.”  — Andrew Carnegie

And lastly while we were backing of in the name of group conformity I was quite happy to see three retired friends passing us by on modest 100cc bikes probably as old as they were slowly inching towards their goal…

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