Published Oct 4, 2005

Something sometimes happens in b-school, something that scares me as someone who’s seen it from the outside. In b-school, there’s group projects in every class; and, every now and then, there’s a group member who doesn’t contribute. News of this individual’s worthlessness in a group spreads quickly, and, soon, if you mention that person’s in your team, you get snickers from other hard-working people. Soon, wherever you go, that person is known as a Bad Team Member.

It’s really amazing how quickly this kind of thing spreads, and a little scary. The grapevine is fast and powerful. But it’s good, too. I am in a team with one Bad Team Member, and the grapevine told us that he would be, but we ignored the rumors (to our detriment). I wonder if other large organizations work like this? If I took a job at Intel, would I get to learn who was a hard worker and who was a slacker? And what happens to the individual labeled as a Bad Team Member? Is there a second chance? Is there a way to rehabilitate one’s reputation?

And why am I so worried about the Bad Team Member anyway? Shouldn’t I be glad others are lableled as such, for my convenience? Because it is nice to know — if someone’s not going to produce, I’d rather know up front, so that I don’t have to worry about it and can just go and do their work myself. ‘Cause, let’s face it, I’ll do as much work as you put in front of me. And that, my friend, is my problem.