Do you know how to communicate effectively?

Do scheduled meetings support effective communication, particularly of teams that are distributed globally? I would say “No, not all the time”. The key issue here is the word “scheduled”. One of the things that we can do is watch the presence indicator – these little green lights for example you get on a lot of applications to tell you if the other person’s machine is online.

Maybe they are not online but at least it looks as though they are at their desk and able to communicate. If they are, that is a good time to call. In different time zones it can be much easier to notice that somebody comes online and then just call them there and then. And the second tip is to use a cloud-based collaboration service which has video in it,because then you are all using the same system and you can click on a person’s name; it goes straight through; you can talk to them immediately.

So the conclusion is that the word “scheduled” is maybe over-used and in this type of environment, it may be better to look for opportunities to talk when the other person is obviously online. So if you want to discuss this or any of your own project issues, please connect with me.

I look forward to talking to you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Leave unsafe travel environments behind

Here is a short video from Scatterwork about the benefits of avoiding unsafe environments while traveling in the interest of training or coordination of virtual teams. We all know that it’s never 100 percent safe to travel. Everyday of the week there are car accidents and trains and much evidence of unsafe travel. We just have to accept that and get on with our business. Very often the alternative is poor telephone conferences, not very effective web meetings and so forth. One of the ways of counteracting ineffective meetings is to build more structure into how the meeting is held, how it’s supported and so forth. This is a skill that a virtual team will have. So, I’d like to suggest that to you. If you have project activities that need to be supported and you’d like to do it without traveling, do get in touch with me and we’ll see how we can help. Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional
face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but
virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training
features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

How to schedule global meetings

Hello this is Deasun î Conchœir from Scatterwork to talk about an issue that should be simple but frequently causes a lot of effort and frustration, how to schedule meetings across time zones.

The first guideline is to recognize that scheduling is an iterative process. So that means messages that come over and back. It requires quite a lot of messages to find the exact time. This can’t be done instantaneously. People who sit in the same office they say yes, no, check that out and so on. But, when you’re working in a distributed environment it takes longer for the process to take place. In addition to that, we have to treat it as a process and not just something that happens in the background.

Guideline number two is to use a scheduling tool that converts time zones automatically to find possible meeting times. If this is done, then the individuals get suggestions and they can read them in their own time zone and so on. It really is not practicable to send things are you available in this time zone. And, of course, if there are errors, the meeting doesn’t take place.

The third guideline is to offer as many time options as possible. If a very limited number of options is sent out, we find that no solution emerges and then we have to repeat two or three days later. So, it saves time just do it in the beginning.

The fourth guideline is to broadcast the options as far in advance as possible. I’ve seen situations where people need three or four meetings over a period of a couple of weeks, maybe six weeks in advance. People always have their diaries full closer to the current time. So, by going out as far in advance as possible, it gives a better chance of finding workable times.

Guideline number five is to not allow individuals to dictate their preferences before starting. If they do, then that limits the choice that is setup and the process doesn’t start. It’s much better to try and recognize these but not to force it on the system and offer lots of options. It may turn out that most of the people are available for a particular time and we have to go back and negotiate. In fact, not even the boss should be allowed to dictate times at the beginning. It should really be done on an open basis and that we find works best.

When we send out requests for availability, we should have a time limit on the reply, for example, 24 hours. Otherwise, people will come back four or five days later and undo the effort that you were putting into the scheduling.

Guideline number seven has already been mentioned in passing. If we look at the feedback from this process and find most people are free for a particular time, we can go back and ask the other person are they really, really not free at the given time. It might have been a preference rather than an absolute. For example, people don’t like to work late at night. But, obviously if they are in an airplane they usually can’t talk.

Guideline number eight is to close the process and say this time was decided. Then, send out a separate invitation with that time. This will make sure that it will show up in everyone’s calendar with their time zone.

So, there you have it. Treat setting up meetings as a process. Do it over a longer period of time. Use a tool that converts time zones and insist on having a wide variety of options.

So, I hope that works for you. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Clever Thinking delivers Project Value early

Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork with another anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK Guide. This one relates to costs, or indeed, getting the project value early from a project by a bit of clever thinking. A project manager in England was responsible for building a large supermarket, which would also sell cheap petrol to attract shoppers. The plan for the petrol station included the usual small shop for soft drinks, newspapers and so on.

The original plan was to build the supermarket and open it, a big project phase. Then, to build the petrol station, a small project phase. As most of the time and the value was in the supermarket, this meant getting value towards the end of the overall project. What they actually did, was simply reverse the phases. The petrol station was built first, and the customers started coming. They also got familiar with the main supermarket, because a selection of the products was also sold in the small shop.

Then, they built the supermarket. By the time it opened, it had already been a steady stream of customers who knew where it was and were familiar with the products. The moral there, is that the value in a project can be obtained much sooner, on occasion, by a bit of clever thinking. Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Varied Participation increases impact

This is a short video from Scatterwork about varying participation in workshops and thereby getting an increase in the impact. A typical workshop has some business issue that needs to be resolved as well as possible and as quickly as possible so we bring together the right people who have the know-how, the context, the experience and so forth and they work on it. We hope that they will evolve a solution.

The people that we bring, if the issue is either local or the people locally have the skills we need, then we sit together. If the issue involves people that are further away, then there is an unavoidable delay in bringing people to a meeting and those people lose business time by traveling. But, we have to decide if that’s worth it. If we have a really big issue, we might say we need people from a much wider background. Again, that’s a conference and it takes longer to organize and it also costs more.

Other reasons that we bring people to this meeting might be team building. For example, those who are going to be involved in the implementation of the solution and we might bring stakeholders in as well so that they see what is emerging and again, they will support us as things go ahead.

In Scatterwork, we specialize in virtual workshops so that means providing the structure, the direction, the experience to make sure that we can hold a workshop but do it though the internet. By doing that, we can have a much wider variety of people involved and without much of the lead time delay that we would have if we were holding a physical meeting and certainly much more cost effective.

Why is it worth doing this? Let’s just say that a typical person has a 100 live contacts and that each of those 100 live contacts has 100 live contacts. Then we find ourselves in a situation that the linkage brings in 10,000 contacts so we have a much, much greater access to insight when we bring in more people. That’s the suggestion is that we use virtual workshops for an appropriate, and this always allows us to do it faster than if we’re involving travel and it allows us to bring in a much greater variety of people. By doing that, we leverage from the situation.

Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Scope Management

Hello, Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork with an anecdote from the book Overview of the PMBOK Guide and this time, it’s to do with brainstorming and scope management. Scope says what is in a project, what work do we need to do? If that’s not very visible, then we can get pushed off track or the scope can change without anyone really noticing and then of course, it’s harder to deliver and then people are disappointed and so on, so management of scope is rather important and in particular, acceptance of the scope.

The anecdote here is that I was consulting on an international project where a new work package was being started. This could have been documented privately and then passed to the project manager for feedback. The disadvantage would have been too little acceptance. When we had the solution, the core project team was at the end of a planning meeting and ten minutes were left before some of the participants had to take taxis to the airport.

Using Post-it notes, forty or fifty ideas of what needed to be done were collected in less than five minutes and after they went away, they were documented. Because the team had participated in the brainstorming, the result was accepted by the core team without question. I think if we had put the same list together and emailed it out, it wouldn’t even have been read. Thank you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.