Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, August 12, 2005

Virtual Teams Doorway To Effective Collaboration

To make virtual business-based networked team work effectively we spend way too much time and resources focusing on the technologies and software tools which would best retrofit our needs for improved, faster and more efficient communications.

We test, compare, review and experiment tons of new tools searching for features and facilities that can supposedly best support the many different work situations we need to face.

But when it comes down to online collaboration, team coordination and management, there are so many human-based variables at play, so many critical components to effective information exchange, workflow distribution and knowledge sharing, that delegating technology to take the full responsibility of the solution can only do so much to improve our collaboration and cooperation efficiency.

This is why, as a researcher of new media technologies and scout of new and more effective ways to online collaboration I have diven early and deep into the invitation made to me a few months ago by Ken Thompson.

Ken, is a UK-based analyst and expert in organisational development with a strong nose for going beyond what is readily apparent and an uncanny ability to research scientific and socio-biological literature to draw fascinating learning lessons on how we could very readily learn from the many existing successful living systems of the key characteristics needed to operate a succesful team.



If over the course of millions of years "nature" has elected selected behaviour patterns, and sets of supporting "technologies" as keys to the extraordinary longevity of certain living species, we should have all of the interest in finding out how we can ourselves be more successful by learning from such more evolved living teams.

And it is out of this line of thinking that Ken came up with the idea of systematically studying earth existing successful living systems and the socio-biological research literature associated with it, in order to create and define the perimiter of interest of a new research discipline to be named: bioteaming (the study of how biological teams successfully co-operate).

Over the last few months, me and Ken have brainstormed together quite a number of interesting ideas and concepts, and thanks to Ken's unstoppable desire to master the many new concepts and ideas we were encountering, have written a lot of interesting pieces on how we can effectively learn from ants, bees or dolphins the "how-to" of better team management and cooperative workflow.

Bioteaming is indeed a fascinating new research area attempting to bridge science findings into the operational configuration and setup of new emerging networked virtual business teams in ways that are both practical and enhanced by a more well-reasoned integration of cutting-edge collaboration technologies.

There's a lot to learn and lots still to be analyzed, clarified, tested and refined. We are just at the beginning. But the initial results and reactions are positive and very encouraging.

What we propose feels good to passionate teams working toward a common cause as it enables each team member to contribute more of what sHe can do best, while maintaining a high level of independency, freedom of action, and a pervasive information flow for each team member.

In this new audio-visual presentation Ken Thompson takes a stab at showcasing how bioteaming is not just a virtual map for a future research discipline. In "How to fix three killer problems in your teams without any extra technology" Ken brings in true-life examples and work situations that we are all very familiar with:

1) the dreaded executive meetings that suck up so much of our work time with often so little return for what we put in.

2) the unpredictable issues and problems that are part of any complex workflow situation, but which depending on how we are prepared to handle them can go from disastrous events to actual business opportunities.

3) the "political" tensions dictated by parties and tribes within our organization can sometimes break havoc and destroy any hopeful desire of rapid change or improvement in workflow processes.

He recounts the scenarios that are typical of the organizational teams finding themselves blocked by these issues while suggesting a bioteaming alternative for each one.

This is material that anyone can digest, spoken in simple terms and with references to scenarios and issues organization have spent all enormous amounts of money and frustration in trying to overcome.

"As enterprises gradually decentralize their operations and new networked business ecosystems start to find their way into profitable niche marketplaces, virtual, networked business teams gradually emerge as the wave of the future.

To be successful, virtual, networked business teams need a strategic framework in which to operate.

They also need good planning and in-depth project analysis, effective and accessible technologies, constant coaching, systematic fine-tuning, feedback processes and the full understanding that their success cannot be determined by a pre-designated set of communication technologies by itself.

But, until now, projects supported by virtual business teams have not been brought back major successes.

Virtual teams are having major problems and managing their progress has been a superlative challenge for most.

Organizations face for the first time the need to analyze and comprehend which are the key obstacles to the successful management of effective online collaborative business networks. Though the answer is not simple, the solution is to be found in examples that are closer to us than we have yet realized.

Virtual collaboration for networked business teams is a complex and challenging activity in which there are major important components to be accounted for.

Virtual business teams DO NOT operate like traditional physical teams, as their requirements reflect a whole new way of communicating, working collaboratively, sharing information and mutually supporting other team members.

The new technologies and approaches required to achieve this are completely alien to most of our present organizational culture. And this is why they fail.

Cooperative processes are not the automatic results of implementing collaborative, real-time communication technologies, but the result of a carefully designed and systematically maintained virtual team development plan.

For those of you who have already exposed themselves to the positive advantages made available by the use of cutting-edge communication and collaboration technologies, this should sound as a familiar melody.

How many times have you been witness to technologically-based collaboration projects that have miserably failed--Why is there so much disjoint between technology potential and the productive use that business team members make of them?

If the solution is not in the technology enabling such networked business teams to easily interoperate, where is it then?"

(Source: Bioteaming Manifesto)

This audio visual presentation is kindly sponsored by PresenterNet.
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posted by Robin Good on Friday, August 12 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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