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Virtually Yours: Your Virtual Team

by Ronald Gunn, Strategic Futures principal

Our cross-functional teams/matrix management training and consulting practice is taking us to ever more environments where virtual teams abound.

A virtual team is comprised of team members who share responsibility for turning out defined work and for achieving defined objectives, and who perform from a flexible mix of stationary, mobile, and/or remote work environments.

A cross-functional virtual team is the same, except that members are drawn from a spectrum of disciplines, collaborating in an orchestrated effort to achieve goals, provide customer satisfaction, etc. A cross-functional virtual team may be located in a larger matrix of cross-functional teams, where many of these teams are non-virtual or only virtual in part, perhaps for a specialized function or two.

Defogging the Virtual Team

There are plenty of virtual/non-virtual permutations and combinations, and plenty of opportunities for befuddlement that need defogging.

A recent client inquiry called upon our knowledge of managing a "global matrix comprised of virtual teams." A global matrix comprised of virtual teams sounds quite daunting. In many respects, it is quite daunting. However, the principles of effective matrix management which apply to cross-functional teams located on the same corporate campus or on several corporate campuses, apply equally to a global matrix where team members are arrayed in virtual teams like so many connecting dots in a cybertrapezoid. In fact, the key problem needing attention was not related to the "virtuality" of the team or the matrix at all, but was instead a classic matrix management syndrome which would create conflict and confusion whether down the hall or on another continent.

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