Communication Students Create Organizations to Solve Real World Problems

May 6, 2016

Every two years, OBU offers an organizational communication course taught by Dr. Vickie Ellis, professor of communication arts. This spring, both sections of the course recently held a spirited competition. As a part of their course requirements, each team was required to develop a fictitious organization, from mission statement to crisis management plan and everything in-between.

The class, organizational communication, is a course within the communication studies major. The students endeavored to develop the most outstanding fictitious organization, with the project involving team-work, analysis, coordination, creativity, problem-solving, and public presentation.

External consultants audited the team’s decisions, offering insight and unique perspectives throughout the semester. This year, the consultants included a group of high school students from ASTEC Charter School in Oklahoma City; a group of graduate students (OBU alumni) from the University of Alabama; a business club from Covenant College; gifted and talented students from Bolivar Missouri Intermediate School; a group of leaders from Camp War Eagle; a national parliamentarian; a retired debate coach from Vallejo, California; and a team of gifted and talented students from Terrill ISD in Terrill, Texas.

In an effort to help students evaluate the structure and function of communication within organizations, they were challenged to create a fictitious organization that others would see a real-world need for. Though some teams spoke to budgetary issues and other to ideas, they were explicitly asked to focus their presentation on the following: types of communication designed to effectively engage external audiences, such as a mission statement, logo, slogan, and crisis plan; and types of communication that will foster growth from within, including organizational charts, policies, and goals.

The teams participating in this course were split into two sections, A and B. Section A included five groups: “Tawakoni Heights,” made up of class members Haylee Belcher, Taylor Mays, Ally Powers and Haley Savage; “Paws & Pals” included Kari Callahan, Laura Hickman, Kimberly Robinson and Haley Schumacher; “Internationally United Academy” consisted of Darian Freeman, Robyn Kuylen and Rebekah McPheeters; Andre del Rio, Kayla Kendall and Kyleeann Parker formed “Glitz & Grime;” and “Starlight Theatre” was created by Michelle Goins, Maile Hopkins, Jeremiah Hurd and Katie Ward.

Section B also consisted of five different groups: Braden East, Markella Suka and Joshua Whitlock formed the organization “Energy Conservation Consultants;” “A.E.D.” was created by Logan Hays, Sigourney Jackson and Thaddaeus Rhoades; Meg Reeder, Lindsi Skinner and Hailey Whitfield formed “Intertwined Theatre;” “Fractal Systems” was created by Catherine Finch and Erinn Shaughnessy; and Adam Holt and Savaughn Williams formed the organization “Creativity Unearthed.”

“Starlight Theatre” was named the winner in section A. It was a nonprofit organization designed as a children’s theatre program for the local Shawnee community. “Paws & Pals” took first runner-up. Their organization was created to use pet therapy to help those with disabilities.

In section B, the winning team was “Intertwined Theatre,” a for-profit outdoor/hammock drive-in theater. The fist runner-up was “Creativity Unearthed,” an entity designed to serve underprivileged students in Lawton, Oklahoma, helping them to “unleash their creative passions.”

A panel of judges including OBU staff, alumni and community members rated the teams on criteria including the organization’s mission statement, logo, slogan, policies, crisis plan and response to questions proposed by the judges. The teams were rated in each category as average, above average or brilliant. The teams were then given an overall ranking to determine the winner.

The final event was held at OBU’s Cargill Advancement and Alumni Center and the following community leaders served as the judges: Paula Gower, Carrie Myles, Tim Burg, Gretchen Trimbell, Larry Walker, Dana Whitlock, Morgan Robinson, Kenny Day, Jack Moore and Travis Alexander. OBU alumna Sam Medlin, former organizational communication winner and current OBU employee, was also in attendance during the competition, which was held April 26.