energizing breakthrough performance

Virtually Yours: Your Virtual Team

Indeed, a key difference involved with managing a global matrix comprised of virtual cross-functional teams is that this challenge requires roles and rules that are even more clear than the roles and rules that would be "adequate" where team members have the advantage of working together and working it out regularly on a face-to-face basis.

The very technology that makes the virtual team possible, e.g., cell phone, e-mail, voicemail, fax machine, overnight packages, etc., defines some key differences between virtual teams and conventional teams. Even with open, visible, and instantaneous information in a shared digital space that prompts cooperative action, employees cannot communicate as robustly with one another in virtual environments as they do in traditional offices. Spontaneous synergy, brainstorming chemistry, instant innovation—call this what you will, but "in-the-same-room" results can yield more, better, and faster than electronic groupware for more complex issues, projects or challenges. Mind you, there’s no guarantee that non-virtual collaboration will achieve superior results, but it can.

Ask yourself for your own enterprise and challenges: What are the limits to groupware, or M-softing the brains and behavior of your team members? Groupware has its limits when it comes to addressing the full range of interpersonal issues involved in managing successful teams, particularly cross-functional teams working on complex projects, products, or customers. Sometimes these limits don’t really matter. Sometimes they do.

Think about just one slice of the problem—the simple team brainstorming aspect. Same-room brainstorming can nurture trust and forgiveness needed to induce team members to risk vocalizing some just plain bad ideas. E-mail leaves an electronic record of all ideas, good and bad. Conceptual risk-taking may be somewhat diminished in cyberspace. I’ll go ahead and just say it: Groupware encourages a significant level of groupthink. Groupware groupthink is perfect for some projects, product development, and customer services, and spot-on deadly for others. Stated differently, every job is not a job for a virtual team.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5