People are More Than Their Job Description

RugMark inspected factory workers in Nepal, U Roberto Romano Papers, UConn

As we bring together new teams for the next cohort of projects in the Greenhouse Studios, a central question we ask is why should this or that person be included in a project team. This decision speaks to the core of the Greenhouse Studios mission.  The idea of the Greenhouse Studios is both idealistic and realistic. We feel that we should be able to bring a group of intelligent people together around a common idea (what we call a prompt), and from that collaboration will come a story of some type, in some form, that is both scholarly and interesting. That’s the idealistic part. The realistic part is that to increase the odds of success, it is a good idea to seed the groups with people who have certain skills, knowledge or interests, that will insure that we cover the bases of technology knowledge, subject knowledge, organizational knowledge, for example, needed to produce some output at the end of the process.

To ensure that the process actually progresses, a facilitator is assigned from the GS staff. This facilitator’s role is to keep the process moving, and not to lead the development in any direction.

But the tricky part of team building remains with inviting participants. If we are too idealistic, we put the projects at risk, too prescriptive, and we invalidate the central thesis of Greenhouse Studios.  We try to be guided by a sense that, as one colleague in the Working Group said, “People are more than their job description” and are expected and encouraged to think of themselves as more than an archivist, or web developer, or professor. Team members bring their entire selves to the table, and it makes all the difference when they do.


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