Virtual Teams

I’ve just read the paper “Working effectively in a virtual team” by Terry Neal (our speaker on Friday 6th August) and Clare Atkins, signposted by Sarah.  These are my initial thoughts:

  • The success criteria for a virtual team are an extension (superset?) of those for physical or face-to-face teams.  It seems right intuitively, so it’s reassuring to have experimental evidence to support this.
  • I didn’t note any explicit comparisons between managing a virtual team and managing a physical but dispersed team.  I would posit that the needs for extra effort in communications would be similar in both.
  • I’ve worked in innovation teams, so it was personally interesting to read those aspects of the project.  A couple of points that chimed with me were:
    • Innovation has no best practice on which to call (except for the innovation process itself of course)
    • The need for a “jack of all trades”.  You can’t use traditional software development methods when you’re innovating
  • Working from home was cited as a benefit (towards the end of the “Introduction” section).  I’m delighted to hear that it was, but one should be aware that working from home doesn’t suit everyone.  Some people need the structure of working alongside colleagues, or just in an office of other employees of the same organisation.
  • I liked Kimball’s table early in the “Others’ learning” section.
  • In “Norming”, the authors talked of the difficulty of retrieving files stored in the “Google group”.  I found this interesting as it reflects a “file and folder” mindset rather than moving the project team to the “label/tag and search” paradigm, which is a hallmark of Google – and of Web 2.0 more generally.  As we start working in virtual teams, we should perhaps consider this move (I refuse to say “paradigm shift”!) as a lot of the collaboration tools we’ll consider for our work will have a label/tag and search feel to them.
  • I’ve left the point that struck me most to last – having two project leaders.  In the last paragraph in “Norming”, the authors note that having two people monitoring meant it was more likely they would identify issues, particularly of dysfunction.  I’d like to add that I think it probably helped that the two leaders were responsible for different aspects of the project so had slightly different individual goals – even though they shared the same overall goals for the project of course.  They would be looking at how the team and individuals within it were performing thought different lenses.  I imagine they could well have helped each other out solving team dysfunction problems with those different perspectives.

Looking forward to the meeting on Friday, after I get back from the pub, delivering this week’s quiz.  It will just be Friday for me 🙂

Apologies for not getting round other people’s blogs and their Week 3 postings.  I’ve had a really busy week including house guests so I just haven’t had the time.  Hope to get a bit more study time next week when the house will be back to normal when Granny gets back from Maryland – yes, we’ve just had our second grandchild.  😀

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6 Responses to Virtual Teams

  1. Carolyn Hastie says:

    Good to read your impressions Chris. I like the idea of two leaders/monitors. Two people always see more than one and different aspects at that!

    • chriswoodhouse says:

      Thanks Carolyn. Good to see you’re checking out the blogs from Queensland. Is this on a mobile device? Should you be comparing notes with Matt?

      • I found the process of working from the mobile frustrating Chris. I make far more mistakes typing on the mobile keyboard and also, not getting the whole picture (because the screen is so small) was challenging. The benefits of being on the road and away from home and being able to access the websites is a brilliant benefit. I’ll take your suggestion on and link with Matt to explore my experiences more. Thanks

  2. Congratulations Grandad!!

    I have to say that I am moving into the concept of a 2-person facilitation model myself. I do not have a co-facilitator on this course for various reasons, but having said that, I’m feeling that I have many co-facilitators. I think a collaboration approach spreads the work load and offers the project/team several perspectives. But it does take skills to work like this. How do you think working online impacts on a tag-team approach to project management?

  3. coachcarole says:

    Thanks for that synopsis Chris – I value those thoughts and recommendations. In my co-facilitation role at the beginning of this year, I collaborated with my UK co-facilitator on a weekly basis. We used Skype for our collaboration meetings; Moodle discussion forums for gropu converations; and Elluminate Live (2 dif time zones) for our course tutorials and we advocated the use of Action Partners for the participants. So I’m all in favour of a 2-person facilitation model.
    Sarah, the skills required include cooperativeness, communicativeness and flexibililty. The 2 person team need to have a strategy/plan in place for how they facilitate the forums, the assigned work, the online tutorials, the weekly News and reminders etc. All of this can be done using a combination of tools – skype, googledocs (for design briefs and running sheets) and a shared sense of ‘scaffolding’ for learners.

  4. Pingback: Reflecting on the ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Online Facilitation « Clarify Me

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