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Aha effects and learning experiences of the group members


Reflection and Evaluation of our group work

This semester is almost over and thus is our blogging task! Now I want to take the opportunity together with my blog-team-members Viola and Martin to reflect, evaluate and comment our team work in order to find out how we influenced each others posts and what we learnt from each other during our team blogging.

Both, Viola and Martin inspired me very much in different aspects which I mentioned below in separated paragraphs.  As a team we talked and discussed a lot about the topics which concern us. When we draw our first mind map together I remember very well that we were a bit worried that we wouldn’t find enough interesting topics to write about. However, as we know now – our worries were without any reason. Especially at the end we got more and more into it and have found a bunch of topics which would be attractive and exciting to research and write about. For me this whole blogging task was a bit like building a puzzle together and now at the end of the semester we see how it has evolved and how the different pieces are fitting together. Due to very various topics, different writing styles and structures we created a very colourful and attractive big puzzle picture which still would have the ability to continue growing.

Viola – The Critic

I liked very much that Viola wrote about a broad range of CSR topics. She started with work and life balance like her first post “9 to 5 would mean paradise” went over to technology “too connected?!? and to genetic engineering “Brave New World – New imagination or Forecast” and finally she wrote about gender equality and business women in her very smart post “No CSR Without Women?”. It showed that although Viola researched very different and complex topics, she managed to keep her brilliant and fluent writing style and to make also complicated matters and concerns understandable and interesting for everybody. Viola inspired me with her unique  fluent and appealing writing style and I gained very much from her as a member of my team. In her posts Viola researched critically and discovered many current problems of our modern business world, which were new too me and which I appreciated very much.

Martin – The Storyteller
Martin is the creative thinker in our group and the born storyteller! Martin always found a very nice personal story which he built around his core arguments. Furthermore, his blog posts always had very lovely and attractive introductions which had the effect that I couldn’t stop reading further after skimming his first paragraph. Martin cleverly constructed his posts and attracted with very interesting and often undiscovered topics. I especially liked his blog posts “transferring pity into creativity” about failing development aid and his last post “Epic fail” which was especially very appropriate after the exam period. Besides the red thread which all his posts contain and which made it so enjoyable to read through his work, Martin added in his blog post very smart elements like juicy short videos clips, rhetorical questions and elements as well as good quotations which underlined and backed up his story and core arguments very nicely.

We all contributed different pieces to our CSR related puzzle and I really enjoyed writing about these very diversified, interesting and important topics, which will accompany us probably through our future career path.



3 is far more than 1+1+1
As group work had accompanied me my whole life, sometimes in a more positive and sometimes in a rather negative way, at the beginning I was a bit sceptical towards this task. Are we able to find our personal ways if working in a team? Are we helping each other or hindering each other? I did not know. It was very nice then to get surprised by a totally new experience: Meeting at one eye-level, looking in the same direction, but having completely different methods and ways to think, research, develop interest and transform the interest into a blog post. There was no one stronger or weaker than the other, but strong individuals working towards the same goal: We all wanted to investigate the topic CSR more; wished to widen our views, to learn a lot, sometimes to change our minds and to reflect about things which may have an impact on our personal development. Everyone of us was totally free and independent in this although we talked and discussed a lot about it, questioning our own perceptions as much as others’.

Due to the variety in working methods, interests and topics, we learned a lot from each other and I can say for myself that I also learned a lot about myself. Myself as an independent person, myself in a group and myself in CSR matters. It was completely enriching and even if it took away a lot of our scarce leisure, I have to admit that it did make fun and it definitely brought me closer to CSR.

Kathrin – The discoverer
Kathrin taught me to speak and rather more to think in images, as she had a good eye for choosing meaningful and expressive images. Also, she brought up a lot of “everyday life” in her topics- the clothes I wear (Look out! Stop the ‘Killer Jeans’!), the petrol we are filling our cars with (BP = Beyond Petroleum OR Big Polluter?), the companies we are confronted with every single day.(‘Does a company do well, by doing good?’)This brought the topicality a lot closer to me than I had expected and the consequence was a lot of self-reflection. I questioned a lot my own behaviour, values and attitude. I had to admit to myself that I did not know where on a CSR-scale to place myself. How do I behave myself, writing about CSR but preferring the short-haul flight to Bonn for Christmas to the 7 hours ride with train? Kathrin definitely took away the distance which was between CSR as a corporate target and me. I learned that even I can start by myself and can make a difference. I hope it will last and be fertile!

Martin -The storyteller
From Martin, I learned and I still have to learn a lot to not come directly to the agenda and relax a bit, telling stories and integrating my personal story to what I am writing about. Martin several times chose topics I did not know they existed (lemonaid) or offered a perspective I had definitely not expected, e.g. when he kind of defended child labour (‘Burden of Growing Up’) or when he pointed out that there is a lot more corruption in Germany than we may think (‘Fraud and Bribery’). This offered some sources of friction between my own imagination and his statements, which led to the fact that I definitely learned a lot, reversed my opinions and brought up a lot of curiosity and motivation to find out how much more there will still be. His writing style has always fascinated me as it seemed so appealing, being more casual than my serious way of formulating. Martin taught me to shorten my texts to keep the reader interested and to add a personal note to it, to allow possibility of identification as well as create sympathy with the author. Although I tried to realize the ‘lessons’ learned during my posts, I still have a long way to go. I’m thankful for the enrichment and tips I could take out of this team work and I really appreciated this valuable experience. To my mind, the constellation of our group was ideal, in a way that everybody brought a different aspect to our blog, offering diverse learning possibilities.


The Start and the Change

I guess I am not the typical business student. I am not fully interested in marketing nor in finance. I am bad at math. I don’t like graphs. I hated the first semester at the Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht, Berlin. Before I moved to Berlin I had applied to several other universities, I could have studied a completely different subject. As you can see and imagine yourself, having someone in your team like me might be frustrating and not very motivating. In this sense I might not be the best person to work with.As soon as Dr. B told us to find a group, start a blog and write about whatever interests us, I did not really want to do so. Nevertheless, I quickly found a group, Kathrin and Viola. They wanted to write about corporate social responsibility and I had read a lot about the topic before. This was the first and the last ‘Dr. Bruce told us to sentence’. As soon as we decided to form a group things began to flow naturally. We started talking, we started discussing. We began to write. Everything we started, we started ourselves. Nobody told us to. Of course, we picked up advice along the way. But the group meetings were very productive, we agreed on topics to write about and answered general questions regarding blog design and style. This could be summarized as a first aha experience. To experience how great group work can be if you happen to be in a group where every member wants to achieve a certain goal. Well, I have stated that I wasn’t really motivated at first but as soon as we started, I discovered that I actually enjoyed expressing myself through writing. My attitude towards this class changed. My attitude towards group work as well. The group work I had experienced before was either a good, or a really bad experience. Good because I worked with friends of mine and previous group work had been a success or really bad because we were forced to work in a group, some members did not want to work at all and we didn’t communicate. This time it was easier. We did not always share the same opinion, working habits were differently but I feel like we found a great balance between having fun at what we do, being successful and talking about what bothers us.

Finding What Interests Me

We started our blog writing activity by agreeing on the topics for the first three weeks. This was a good idea to get started. Everything we wrote after these first three weeks came to mind naturally. We had worked ourselves in to the topic and suddenly it was not hard to find a topic to write about. You get involved in a certain work flow. Of course, this was only possible because everyone of us found aspects of corporate social responsibility or related to this topic that really interested them. We read, we wrote. We wrote and continued to read. It was around this time when I realized that if you find this class boring it is your own fault. The freedom of writing about whatever interests you was a great opportunity in order to develop and strengthen your interests.

It All Comes Down to Business

The next great aha moment occurred when I was sitting in class. I was looking at the ‘Toyota A3- Model’. I developed the idea of my blog post “Transferring Pity into Creativity”. In this moment I realized how important it is to connect what interests me, in this case development aid to what I study, business management.
This was the start. Dr. B had been talking about this before. Over and over again. But you have to experience it yourself. It was the first connection of my interests and what I study and had previously considered rather boring.
But when I was researching the topic of fair trade, checking out socially responsible business approaches, see their marketing strategies and then linking it to social and moral values and thoughts I had, I found this great moment. I realized how interesting my field of study can be. I finally found my personal connection to the IBMan program. I had not expected this course to help me with it. The name ‘Business Applications’ did not really give me hope to discover anything that interests me but, lucky me, it turned out differently.

What Did I Learn Academically?

Reflecting on this past semester I realize that I did not only get the soft skills right but also learned some valuable hard skills. Writing blogs on a regular basis means to stay informed. It doesn’t make any sense to write about something you have no clue about. To find out how you best research a topic. Start with a broad overview, then narrow it down. Collect as much information as you can, but don’t lose the red thread. I have found researching and informing myself that interesting that I decided to subscribe to two magazines that are published on a monthly basis. After having passed this semester I now feel really confident using online as well as traditional print sources to research a topic, discovering the pros and cons and then shape my own opinion.

Props to the Team

I started off this self- reflection by mentioning my attitude and how the team composed of Viola, Kathrin and myself turned my distaste for IBMan program into the ability of combining my interests with business. This way I want to conclude. I would like to mention how my two colleagues influenced my work and how out of diversity the sum can be bigger than its parts. As mentioned in several comments regarding my blogs, others find my style of writing very appealing. This storytelling comes naturally. I sometimes find it helpful because through stories you engage people to listen and to think. But sometimes it does not serve the purpose. Viola is a very talented writer. She explores topics from all different points of views, provides a clear structure no matter what she writes. This is something I have tried to adapt. My writing may be very personal at times, it can be hard to find the red thread. Working with Viola and reading her blogs have helped me a lot integrate her accuracy into my own work. Working together with Kathrin has inspired and helped me a lot not to forget my social values. To many people it is rather unimportant to care about labour conditions and the environment. Kathrin cares, is interested and has her own opinion. I enjoyed a lot discussing topics like organic and fairly traded clothing and working conditions in developing countries. Being able to talk about serious issues like these helps to reflect and then write an even better structured and comprehensive blog post. To conclude I can say Viola and Kathrin were perfect partners. Not always of the same opinion but always having the intention of achieving the best. It has been fun to share the spirit of discussing ethical, environmental and economic questions with them.

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  1. Conversations – Best HWR Student Blogging

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