3 Tips for faster Virtual Team Problem Solving

Problem solving can require thousands of personal transactions or messages and research has even higher messaging levels. So every transaction delay time adds to the time it takes to get solutions.

We can see that with this transaction path diagram where the message goes from one person to the second to the third – all of them searching for the solution and every time hopefully they get a little closer to it.

But is there is a big problem: it can take thousands of these transactions. A day has over 86,000 seconds so if the reaction times take days instead of seconds, the solution time increases by a factor of tens of thousands.

So the 1st tip is that business users should learn from social media users, who react in seconds. For example on facebook you get immediate answers. “React in seconds”.

The 2nd tip: use collaborative applications which generate email notifications and that everybody can work on the same ideas and documents at once. For example, Google Docs for text documents, Mindmeister for mindmaps, Cacoo for drawings; Basecamp for Project Management, Questetra for Workflows and so on.

Then the 3rd tip is: that each person turns on all the notifications and forwards them automatically to on inbox, and then here’s the big one: test all the communication pairs between yourself and everyone else, so that if you send a message that they get an email notification that doesn’t go into to spam, for example.

Because if it does, its delay there of days makes it impossible to solve the problems. Not just difficult, but impossible. And then of course, when you get a notification click on it immediately because it will bring usually directly to where the topic is within the application, which saves your user time.

So if you found this issue of interest or you have any other project issues, please feel free to contact me. Thanks very much.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at
ScatterworkOnline Training for Project Management & Team Building

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com
Tel: +41 79 692 4735

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“Master your Virtual Project” workshops upgraded

Greater stability with broader language choice


Until now, the “Master your Virtual Project” workshops have been based on the Global Team Simulator (GTS), an internet accessible version derived from the popular SimulTrain project simulator. While this offered some additional functionality, it also meant that the product revisions always followed the source product, resulting in release delays. Also improvements in SimulTrain were not always reflected in GTS.

To avoid these disadvantages, the “Master your Virtual Project” workshops have been redesigned to use the current version SimulTrain.  This means that:

  • The most up to date version of the project simulator is always used.
  • Business related assignments can be incorporated, both because they are needed and because their development also has the major side effect of teambuilding.
  • The limit of 16 participants has been removed.  You can now involve larger teams, who will work in groups of four.
  • The language choice of the simulator can be selected on-line during the workshops, out of a choice of over twenty languages.
  • The SimulTrain product is more stable than GTS, due to a higher volume of usage and a policy of continuous improvement.

Seasonal Offer

Enter the discount code “New Year 2015” (without the inverted commas) for bookings made up to New Year’s Eve get a 20% discount. If you book for a team of four, or more participants, the fee for one person will be credited as soon as the workshop has taken place, in addition to the New Year discount.

Hurry while the offer remains open.

PMI Leadership Institute Volunteer Planning Meeting

A great event with plenty of stimulation, ideas, discussions…  These few photos are a souvenir of the location, Philadelphia, showing Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Get a free hard copy of my book “Overview of the PMBOK Guide” by sending a message from the contact form, stating what country I was working in during November 1998 (limited offer, while stocks last).Philadelphia collage-1
PMI Volunteer (click for resumé)

Make September Project Launch Time

While some still enjoy their well-deserved holidays and couldn’t be bothered with 2013, others are already thinking hard about it, even on holidays. They know, comes September, when businesses traditionally begin to shift into higher gear, they have to be ready to move, too.

This is especially true for the Project Manager, who just before taking his leave was given an assignment with a completion date sometime next year, or beyond. As an expert PM he knows what needs to be done, what processes are involved and what kind of “players” he’ll need.

But it is the latter that worries him the most, because most likely he will have to take what he gets, not what he wants. Forging a team out of these sometimes random players just happens to also be part of the job. One of his first priorities then is to bring the team to speak the same “language”, have it identify with the task at hand and be committed to the cause.

Involving the team in drafting the Project Charter, the Project Management Plan and planning the ensuing steps is a time-proven method to get the project off the ground. However, some educational help may be necessary.

Scatterwork fills this gap with its workshop …

 How To Launch Your Team Project More Effectively,

which is or can be based on a team’s actual project guiding it efficiently through the launch phase. It also introduces the team to enough of the concepts and terminology of the PMBOK® Guide to support project success.

The workshop may last from 1-2 days, depending on the nature of the project. This workshop and other courses on project management were created and are run by Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir, a highly competent project management expert and very much in demand as project troubleshooter, coach and trainer. He also  wrote“Overview to the PMBOK® Guide” described as the book for everyone in need of readable instructions to best practice management.

For details, contact Scatterwork Marketing.

Talking to a Ghost

Virtual communication is increasingly replacing conference room communication. The corporate world is slowly becoming aware of the benefits of communicating virtually. It saves precious executive and staff time and a ton of money in unspent travel expenses, just to mention  a few of the many features VC offers.

Does that sound like the quadrature of the circle for business communication? Not quite, in most cases a few edges are left to be smoothed, especially at the beginning when the concept is introduced. But altogether it’s a great step forward in team building.

Many people find it weird talking to a screen, it feels like talking to a ghost. However, it doesn’t take much time, and with some practice most people will begin to feel comfortable with this concept.

Where training is really necessary is in the area of methods and styles, how people work together over distances, how quick and efficient team-building can be accomplished and how to cope with technical and cultural diversity.

Recently, Scatterwork ran a pilot with a near live-like project simulation and participants from Switzerland and India. The participants had not know each other before. One of them made her impressions (albeit only in German) public in a blog, which we’d like to share with you.

If you’d like to learn more about Scatterwork Virtual Communication Training Programs and this project simulation, contact Scatterwork Marketing.

Is Virtual Work Dehumanizing?

It used to be that we all went to seminars, held at a given place, day and time. We met new people, chatted during coffee breaks and exchanged business cards. And sometimes we went home asking ourselves was it worth the time and money spent. Sometimes it wasn’t.Today, we’re attending webinars. From home, the workplace, from anywhere. OK, we may miss the coffee and the chats, but we’re saving a bundle in time and expenses. And we’re getting something almost impossible to obtain before: Diversity and Quick Results.

This was demonstrated at a webinar on Human Communication in a Virtual Environment I recently had the opportunity to attend. It was set up by an international organization headquartered in the U.S., which announced it just a few weeks before it was held. This would have taken months for a seminar.

Close to 500 people attended, About 50 came from Europe and about the same number from Asia. A few came from Latin America and the rest from the U.S. Granted, the number of attendees would have been smaller in the case of a flesh-and-bone-meeting. Even then the expenses and the time investment would have been horrendous. In this case, there was none of that and the organization had more attendees and a higher diversity of nationalities.

Of the audience, about one firth each was working up to 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% virtually. Even though they may not be scientifically accurate, these figures give you a good idea of the state of virtual working. Payoff: quick survey results.

Since the webinar was addressing an international audience, it was held in English. Of those attending, 60% indicated English as their mother tongue.

The webinar was held with a “collaborative tool” where the screen of your computer displayed  pages commented by the presenter. On the right of the screen you saw a chat window where participants could type in questions and comments. Although it worked well and the presenter answered questions. a majority of the participants indicated a preference for a voice-active tool making true verbal two-way communication possible. Payoff: instant feedback.

Virtual Working offers dramatic savings. Is it dehumanizing? No. People are too smart, they will find other ways to cultivate the human element.  Is it just a fad, will we go back to seminars? No. there’s too much of a pressure to increase the efficiency of the workplace. Virtual working opens the door to higher efficiency and greater savings.

As a side note, the presenter of this webinar was Dr Deasún Ó Conchúir, who ran it from his office in Switzerland. For more on the subject of Virtual Working and Communication in a Virtual Environment, contact Scatterwork.

Thank you for your interest in reading this blog. 

Captain or Sailor?

Never mind the rank, they make a team, like project management groups. Anyone involved in managing a project assumes a function, be this as Project Manager or team member. And functions carry responsibilities, primarily to steer a project to a goal through a sea of imponderables.Like any captain or pilot who acquires and hones his skills in simulation and practical work, project management people can now develop their skills with computer-based simulation. With “Improve Your Skills With a Challenging Project Management Game” we offer you a live interactive team simulation program, which helps team members acquire management competences, leadership and team working skills.

In small teams, the participants ponder and act on simulated project management scenarios, which challenge them to complete the project within given time and budget limitations. Learning never turns into a boring experience as team members don’t work alone, a project manager can invite team members to participate over the internet, regardless where these members are located.

According to previous participants. the program has a very realistic feel. indeed, it is the works of a highly qualified project management experts group and is also led and debriefed by an expert. Altogether, it consists of 4 half-day events.

Setting up a call to our head trainer before the end of May will not oblige you to anything, but make you a lot more knowledgeable about project management skills. Or else, contact Scatterwork Marketing.

Identify the Red Lights

The universe of a project has a lot to offer: progress, success, failure, recognition, satisfaction, glory, frustrations etc. It all depends on the nature of the project and the people involved. And when the project is managed virtually, meaning with actors in different locations, the complexity gets upped by several notches.Aspiring to quick fixes under these circumstances might bring a naive project manager in no time at all to face a jungle of red lights: areas with all sorts of obstacles slowing down the project’s progress .What went wrong? It all started with not enough attention being paid to identify the potential red light areas of the project.

In a survey we conducted, project management executives indicated the lack of sensitivity or blatant inattention to the these areas to be the most likely cause for potential trouble:

  • Trust
  • Diversity (location- or task-wise)
  • Operational Guidelines
  • Process Management
  • Tool Selection

In a recent series of speeches and corporate presentations, Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir, PMP, succeeded to raise the level of awareness to these pitfalls. As Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork GmbH, Switzerland, he applies his project management experience to virtual team environments. He also specializes in Project Troubleshooting, Coaching and Training and is the author of ““Overview to the PMBOK® Guide””, described as the book for everyone in need of a readable instruction to best practice management. His clients include Swiss and international blue chip companies.

In addition, he is a member of the Engagement Committee for PMI Communities of the PMI Educational Foundation as well as former VP Education & Certifications of the PMI Switzerland Chapter, where he established six virtual teams.

If you are interested in Dr. Ó Conchúir’s topic, send a mail to e.bouchard@scatterwork.com. We’d be pleased to send you a 5-minute video capsule outlining the benefits of virtual team working. Please pass this message on to anyone you think might be interested.

HELP. I’m Drowning!

This is what many a project manager feels, when he readies himself to attack his mail. How many times has he been tempted to deal with it summarily via the delete button. But, did he do it? No. Did you ever do it?

Probably not. Because there might be an important item waiting for you. Thus, you have no choice but to wade through that sea of messages and eliminate the junk. And as Project Manager, you might get a ton of it.

We don’t want to add to that junk, We would like to offer you information, news and ideas from the world of project management. Simply allow Scatterwork to contact you on a regular basis by signing up here. This Scatterwork service is complimentary and free.

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