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Team Concept

September 22, 1987

In May, General Motors workers in its Van Nuys plant spent seven days training for a new manufacturing method called team concept. The program, among other things, is designed to boost communication among workers. As part of their classroom study, workers were given a list of 10 people and then told to pick six who would be allowed entrance into a fallout shelter during a nuclear attack. There were no right or wrong answers. This exercise was designed to teach a group how to reach a consensus. The only requirement was that the group agree on its choices. Here is the test as it appeared in GM's training manual:

"In a nuclear attack, 10 people report to a fallout shelter where there is only enough room, air, and water, for 6 people. Your group must decide which 6 stay. The only information about the 10 people is that they are: 1. Bookkeeper, 31 years old 2. His wife, 6 months pregnant 3. A black militant, 2nd year medical student 4. Famous historian, 42 years old 5. Hollywood starlet, sing- er/dancer 6. Bio-chemist 7. Catholic priest, 54 year old black 8. Olympic athlete, all sports 9. College co-ed 10. Policeman with a gun (note: they cannot be separated)"

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