Alive Movie Report: Group Dynamics
1) Baseline Description Early After the Crash The first few days following the crash of the Uruguayan Air Force plane carrying 45 passengers en route to Chile was surely made out to be some of the hardest days throughout what would become an amazing 72 day fight for survival. In the first few days the team had to fight through anxiety, mental instability, chaos, and perhaps the most important barricade—the fight to stay unified, positive and team-orientated.
This is what makes it such an amazing story because without the strong team development and commitment, survival would not have been possible. Prior to the announcement that the search party had ceased its efforts, the group was just waiting and depending on the search party to find them. Initially, the group was fragmented even though they worked together to help the injured people under the direction of two noticeable leaders, namely Antonio and Canessa.
Team bonds were weak as a whole and there was some dissatisfaction of Antonio’s bossiness from a few individuals. Together, the group was faced with many casualties, chaos, and severe cold weather. There were great ideas from several individuals, such as using airplane seat covers as blankets, melting snow for water, and insulating the plane with suitcases. Antonio, the rugby team captain, tried to pull the group together as a team and motivate everyone by being optimistic about the search party finding them and creating a food rationing plan.
The events of the initial days after the crash show the team’s competency level and normative level of functioning. When appraising the level of competency of the amateur rugby team based on the behaviors of the team and individuals in the first few days using the diagnostic assessment tools provided in Developing Management Skills (Whetten & Cameron, 2011), one can observe the definitive need for team building by assessing the circumstances that they were in and by understanding what they needed in order to rescue themselves.
Applying the characteristics, behaviors and organizational performance of the rugby team to the skill assessment set for ‘Diagnosing the need for Team Building’ (see Appendix A), one can draw a concise conclusion that there was a necessity for a constructive team. Many of the factors in this assessment were satisfied, however there were a few parameters that suggested the team could have improved. These points are suggestive to the fact that the level of competency of the team was moderate in the early days after the crash, and that there was a need for team building and cohesion.
In one exercise that is used to help determine which specific stage a team operates in, the rugby team tested moderately well when assessing their functioning in the first few days after the crash. We perceive the teams functioning to fall under stage four most of the time. Stage four characteristics show that the team functioned quite well in the first few days together, and when there were disagreements they were always resolved productively. This seems logical as the rugby team had been together for a long time and they had already established leaders in the group.
However, there is always going to be breakdown and anxiety when faced with an extreme situation like the one they were put in. Yet, when looking at the whole picture, the extreme situation did not break down the integrity and overall performance of the team. 2) Movement Through the Stages Our analysis of the team with respect to the stages of team development (see Appendix B) shows that the team was very functional throughout the duration of their time together. Conflicts occurred; however, they were handled effectively and everyone on the team was aware of the main goal they all shared, and eventually became a performing team.
During the first few days, we identified the team development with the norming stage. The team had a hierarchy established and each person’s distinguished skills and abilities were efficiently being used to better the team. Leaders were taking initiative and establishing ground rules and expectations that were to be followed. On the fourth day the team saw the plane that flew by and tipped its wings. This sparked false hope, which led to the storming stage of team development. Everyone believed that they were saved; consequently, they ate and drank what little food and wine they had.
Members of the team had broken the rationing guideline and Antonio had to manage the conflict which involved reprimanding the team after they violated the ‘team contract’. The next stage entered was norming. After the search had been called off, Nando created the new goal for the team of getting out of there themselves. Nando and Canessa enhanced team commitment and focus by getting team members to cannibalize. The team then went back to the storming stage of team development. This was reflected by a couple conflicts. First, there was the conflict with the transportation of the batteries and how it wasn’t ossible. As well as the conflict of trying to bring the radio to the batteries in the tail and the disagreements of which group members were going to partake in this event. Canessa used a forcing approach to influence the group member’s participation. Finally, the team had reached the most desirable and effective level of functioning, the performing stage of team development. The three team leaders embarked on an unknown journey to find help. They fostered extraordinary performance and developed a clear mission which involved over the top commitment to the team and their objectives.
The three grew closer on the journey and encouraged each other to continue. By doing this they achieved exceptional performance. Overall, the team’s development was impressive considering the circumstances they faced. The two times they were in the storming stage, they handled the conflicts effectively without hindering the integrity of the team’s framework. 3) Who Made What Interventions, When The two main kinds of roles that enhance team performance are task facilitating and relationship-building roles.
Various members of the rugby team helped in the survival of the group by influencing the behavior of one another as well as making sure that group goals get accomplished. Please refer to appendix C for complete tables of interventions and analysis. When the plane crashed, all the passengers were at first disoriented and confused on what to do. Their team captain, Antonio, took charge and commanded his teammates to help the injured. He handed out responsibilities to others and got them to work together in order to assist as many people as possible that were hurt on the plane.
His role of direction giving assisted in establishing the immediate tasks that the rugby team must do such as helping the injured. Antonio also prepared them for the first night of survival and acted like a leader in making sure that everyone followed the food rations rule. He played a key role in the transition of the group from the Forming to Norming stage. In order for the team to focus on survival, Antonio used tension reliving to reduce their stress and provided the team members confront that rescuers were on their way.
His use of the elaborating and enforcing task-facilitating roles resulted in uniting the team in agreeing with ideas of Canessa to use the seat covers as a method to stay warm. Canessa played an active role in info giving and info-seeking that enhancing team performance. He looked around his surroundings to seek information about his surrounding and found that plane covers can be used to keep warm. He also used his medical knowledge to tell team members about their current conditions.
Although, many group members positively affected the progression of the team, there were some team members who delayed the process by engaging in a blocking role. When the team believed that they would be rescued overnight, some members made a premature decision to eat all of the chocolate and to disregard the food ration rule. They did not think for whole team and as a result caused the rest of the team to face starvation later. The most essential group member in assisting the team to progress from the Norming to Storming stages was Nando. He caused the group to develop different ideas and perspectives.
He challenged the team to realize that they should they should not give up after discovering that the search party gave up and that the only way they can survive is by assembling a team to explore the mountains and find a way out themselves. He had also suggested that they start to eat the dead in order to increase their strength to find their way out of the mountains. This caused a split in the team on the idea of cannibalism. Nando used urging, reality testing, info giving, confronting, and direction giving to assist the team to move from the Norming to Storming stage.
Antonio was least helpful in this stage in that he used rank pulling, which is a blocking role, to make teammates question Nando. This slowed down the decision process and delayed the process of stage movement. To move from storming to performing stage of team development, the team must be highly effective and efficient. Nando was again most helpful in this stage by using urging and direction giving to implore the team to stay on task and achieve team goals. Canessa was least helpful in this stage in that he used the blocking techniques of resisting and faultfinding.
Canessa kept delaying when they should go into the mountains to get help and kept finding faults in Nando’s ideas. This delayed team’s efforts in achieving its goal. Despite his attempts, Nando still managed to get his help and in the end, they were able to attain their goal and find help to rescue the rest of their team. 4) Establishing Interpersonal Credibility Self-Awareness The three leaders identified in the movie are Antonio, Canessa and Nando. All three of them demonstrated high emotional intelligence immediately after the plane crash.
Emotionally intelligent people are able to regulate and control their emotions. They also can diagnose and empathize with the feelings of others. The leaders effectively managed their own losses and pain during the distress. Because of this, they were able to respond to others’ needs. For example, Antonio kept assuring them rescuers were coming; Canessa took care of the wounded; and Nando inspired hope in everyone by his strong will of survival. They all had fairly high self-core evaluation because they felt capable of performing effectively.
They were emotionally stable compared to the others in the face of despair and became leaders of the group. Because Antonio and Canessa were medical students, they believe in saving lives. They had strong moral values and were willing to work for the welfare of the others. They gave directions and answered questions. Because the group were stranded and were facing imminent death, they were not worried about conforming to and upholding the conventions and expectations of society. Law and order were not governing them. Yet, they did not kill each other for survival because this violated their values and principles.
Antonio most likely had a planning cognitive style because he emphasized structure, rules and order. The food rationing was a survival plan. He believed that they would be rescued, so he valued predictability. He was resistant to change and had low tolerance of ambiguity. On the eighth day, when he heard on the transistor that the search had been called off, Antonio dropped into the snow with a cry of despair and thereafter became withdrawn. This shows that he was overwhelmed by the unpredictability of the future. Nando, on the other hand, had a creating cognitive style, because he emphasized creativity and risk-taking.
As soon as he woke up from his coma and understood their situation, he was already contemplating on trekking through the mountains. He believed in possibilities. He was the person to suggest eating human meat and trekking through the mountains. He also portrayed an internal locus of control because he believed that they could rescue themselves even though the search was called off. Supportive Communication The leaders demonstrated high integrity because they did what they believed in. They were honest and genuine to the group. This represented congruence in their communication with the others.
The leaders also tried not to be evaluative and focused on the problem instead of the person. Nando used flexibility in his communication when he suggested eating human meat. He told the group what they had to do to survive, but left the decision up to them. Nando and Canessa also helped the members in the group feel recognized and understood by talking and listening to them. Antonio was not quite successful in his communication to the others. Although he was the team captain, he did not use respectful, egalitarian communication, because what he did mostly was ordering people around.
This caused disrespect from some of the group members in he beginning. Also, on the day he found out all the food was eaten, he lost control of his emotions. He was being evaluative of the people that ate the food rather than focused on problem solving. Also, when a team member asked him why the rescue plane did not drop supplies, he did not answer and became withdrawn. He began to lose leadership and Nando and Canessa eventually stepped up. Developing credibility As mentioned previously, the leaders demonstrated integrity. Antonio participated in the food rationing plan so he was not seen as hypocritical.
He motivated the others to care for the welfare of the whole team rather than personal interest. He wanted to demonstrate fairness. Canessa was the first person to eat the human meat. By this action, he convinced the others to do the same. When Nando and Canessa were up on the tip of the mountain, they were deciding on whether to continue the trek. Nando was able to convince Canessa to continue because he had a strong will and was also clear and certain of his goal to reach the green valleys. He persuaded Canessa to believe in miracles. Everyone else in the group also believed in his goal and hoped for his success.
Antonio had a positive outlook in the beginning and kept everyone’s hopes high by assuring them that rescuers were coming. He was the one to keep everyone together in the beginning because he was positive and was a source of energy for the others, even though his communication was a bit lacking. Nando also was a source of positive energy for everyone because of his strong will for survival. His optimism of finding the green valleys influenced everyone. He was able to encourage and motivate his partners during the trek to do the impossible. In the end, he succeeded. 5) Motivating Oneself and Others
Throughout the movie there were key events that lead to the ability to motivate others as well as helped to create a motivating work environment. Three individuals who helped create a motivating environment can be identified as the same individuals that became leaders. Near the beginning, Antonio clearly defined an acceptable level of overall performance and specific behavioral objectives with his overall plan of rationing the food until they were rescued. He was able to insure that the group understood what was necessary to satisfy this expectation as well as continuously motivated the group that things were going to work out.
Antonio fell out of the key leadership and motivating role after all the food was eaten before they were rescued. In helping to remove obstacles to reaching the objective of being rescued Nando made sure that the group members had the adequate information that in order for their survival they would need to consume food from the carcasses. Nando was successful in motivating and reinforcing the issue that their survival was capable and dependant on them after the rescue search was called off.
Canessa also took a key level of involvement as a leader of removing the obstacle of fear in eating the carcasses as well as helping to motivate others in joining. Both Nando and Canessa helped in establishing goals that were understood and removed obstacles that helped the team move from a motivation level to a performance level. Nando was successful in motivating the team and individuals with the reward of finally being rescued upon the completion of fixing the radio and making contact with rescuers. This reward helped to reinforce productive behavior within the group as well as motivating others to help achieve the goals.
Nando also used discipline and treated the fixing of the radio as a learning experience and explained the importance of completing the task. Near the end, Nando also helped to motivate the group as a whole with the metaphor of the two shoes and once they are together again they will be saved. This inspired the team to stay strong and that the ultimate goal will be accomplished. During the final trek to find the green valleys of Chile, Nando continued his role of motivating the other two members of the expedition.
During this section Nando reinforced the reward of being saved to help extinguish unacceptable behavior and encourage exception performance of Canessa which led to the ability of changing the performance level in to an outcome driven scenario. Nando influenced the idea of combining all the supplies and only carrying on with him and Canessa to complete the journey. Nando was able to provide the motivation needed to help Canessa, as well as provide the internal incentives of completing the trek to encourage the high performance and satisfaction that was needed.
Nando became a key leader and influence with his motivational tactics and his ability to create a motivating environment. 6) Managing Conflict Several conflicts arose in the movie; the largest conflict involves a group of plane crash survivors being stranded in the cold mountains seeking a way home or rescue. The value of conflict in this situation would be how it brought the team closer as they sought a way to survive and return home. The sources of conflict varied across personal differences, information differences, role incompetency and environmentally induced stress.
Examples of conflict focus can be seen under Appendix D. Two types of conflict exist; they are either people focused or issue focused. People focused problems have intense emotional heat and impact relationships. Issue focused problems are more alike to problem solving. Examples of both people and issue focused problems are seen in Appendix E. Five conflict management strategies exist depending on the degree of cooperativeness and assertiveness; they are forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising and collaborating.
Forcing ultimately is completely assertive for your own needs, accommodating is being cooperative to needs of others, avoiding disregards the conflict and it is not dealt with, compromising requires both parties to give up a little and win a little, collaborating has both teams work together so that both goals are accomplished. The primary and secondary conflict management approach for each of the team members is seen in Appendix F. Conflicts arise throughout the movie but one we will explore in stages will be the problem of consuming food for energy to further their efforts for survival.
Conflicts occur in stages beginning with the conflict situation, the awareness of the situation, realization manifestation of conflict, resolution or suppression, and finally the after-effects. The conflict situation occurs early on after the plane crashes as passengers quickly realized they had to ration the small amounts of chocolate and candy found in suitcases as there was not enough for everyone. A plane looking for the survivors “tips its wing” and the passengers are convinced that they will return to save them, because of this a few team mates decide that they no longer need to ration this food and consume the remains during the night.
Antonio hears over the radio that they have not been seen and the search was called off, this begins the awareness of conflict since they all now know there is no food left. During the manifestation of this conflict, Nando suggests consuming the dead passengers for survival; this leads to a heated debate as his wife deems this absolutely unethical and immoral. Most of the passengers decide that it is a necessity and their only choice for survival and agree that if they too pass, they give permission for the survivors to use their bodies for energy.
Because of this decision there were positive after-effects, the survivors gained energy and were able to live and contribute to the common goal of survival in varying ways. In the end, Nando and Canessa set foot with a bag of meat for energy to find their way out of the mountains and save the remaining survivors. The collaborative approach is thought to be the “win-win” of conflict management. An example of the collaborative approach between two people in “Alive” could be seen during the end when Nando continuously tries to convince Canessa to search for a way out of the mountains.
Canessa is reluctant and says they should wait until the winter is over in “ just a few more weeks”. However, Canessa says “you have the will and I have the brains”, showing that together they have collaborated to choose when to leave the mountain in search for a way out. This ultimately was key to being rescued as if they had gone too early, Canessa would be right and they would freeze, if too late Nando would be right and more people would have died from freezing, injuries or illness. 7) End of Mission Analysis
After analyzing all the attributes of a high performance team, it can be concluded that the rugby team ended up working efficiently and effectively together (see Appendix G). They accomplished their goal of survival for the majority of the team and had coordinated shared work roles. However, the rugby team did not score high on the attributes of shared vision and internal accountability. Some members lost hope of surviving which resulted in only select individuals being more committed to the goal.
Also, internal accountability did not receive high scores because team members still need to work more on acknowledging their negative aspects and its effect on the team. Attributes such as trust among team members, maintaining a clear survival goal, and implementing continuous improvement within team members received high scores. These characteristics resulted in having the team perform beyond the norm and achieving an extraordinary outcome. Overall, the rugby team significantly improved as a team and received a 95% based on the attributes of a high performance team (see Appendix G).