Use Games to Build your Virtual Team

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Hello and welcome to this short video from Scatterwork about using games to build your virtual team. Virtual teams needs defined operating agreements, they need to implement rituals and they need to share planning.

Now, operating agreements, ground rules or whatever you like to call them are essential so the people operate in more or less the same way.

For example somebody may have made strenuous effort to get to a meeting on time or maybe they had to put a baby to bed or change your flight. So not sticking to the agreed time can have big consequences so it’s better to have rules.

Rituals help the momentum when systems fail.So for example when a call is held at the same time every day but the link drops out but because it’s a ritual,the parties spend several minutes trying to reestablish contact.

If it wasn’t a ritual they were just go offline and the work would not get done. And then chairing the planning:
engagement is lacking if planning is simply imposed but that’s much more true in the virtual environments.

For example how work is done can be very local so telling people what to do is not always the best way to do it.

But when it’s completed, it’s shared with the whole team and that’s an issue for the team as a whole.

So the question is: where is the glue that holds the team of people together and the suggestion is that games can be used to help build a virtual team. Think if the games that people play at parties to speed up the process of getting to know everybody. And these days there are a lot of shared applications so that several people can log in at once and use them and they’re great tools for games.

So here’s one: your virtual team needs to introduce its members to others (think Facebook terms) so put the members in groups of three and by having them in separate groups, then you’ll get more ideas than if you put them all in one team.

Then tell them within each team to connect with each other by text or voice and then find out how to connect with
Google slides or some other application, where several people can join in at the
same time and then develop a page to introduce the people in the team. And then afterwards bring all the teams back together and hold a competition to select the best page.

But this is very useful because even the fact of producing a page together with photos and text generates interaction and the interaction, notice, cannot even start without real time communication. And the team learns how to access a cooperative working space which can be used for other things.

So if you find this interesting remember that Scatterwork supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams and the contact details are on this page.

Thanks very much.

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

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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
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How to schedule global meetings

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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.

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Scatterwork Guest: How do you see your project?

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My name is Jonathan Norman from Gower Publishing,  a guest of Scatterwork GmbH, and I’d like to introduce you to a new platform we have developed for project and program managers, GpmFirst. In order to do so, I’ve taken a particular theme, which is the question of how do you see your project, and how do others see your project. I’ve chosen this subject for a couple of reasons. It introduces the premise that human psychology is a powerful influence in projects, and their success or failure, and it also underlines one of the key features of the new project community of practice that I mentioned.

Let’s just tackle these elements in order. In each case, I’ve used screen dumps from the community practice to illustrate my points. First of all, how does our psychology influence projects and their success or failure? Have a look at this image that was created by the wonderful writer Gareth Morgan, and is used in our book, “Images or Projects”. Imagine that this is a picture of your project, what do you see? A pig, but it isn’t as simple as that.

Have a look at each of the people around the edge of the image, let’s call them the stakeholders of your project. Put yourself in their shoes, and now look again at the pig, what does each of them see?

To the farmer, the pig represents his livelihood, a source of income. To the butcher, the pig represents a series of joints and cuts, bacon, ham, and so on. To the vet, the pig represents a potential patient. To the little girl, the pig represents the start of a nursery story, you get the point.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders and ask yourself, how do they see my project, do they see it differently from the way I see it? What implications does this have on how I should communicate with them, or manage my project?

Once you understand the importance of perception, you’ll understand the idea of a playlist, which is a feature in the platform, www.gpmfirst.com. Rather than simply presenting content in the site in the way that we, our moderator, or our expert authors think it should be presented, we’ve included a feature that allows you to add any elements of the site, chapter, books, user generated articles, videos, community discussion threads, and indeed external links into your end playlist, which you can commentate.

Think of it as your own personal scrapbook of how you see a given theme, or a problem, in project management. Once you’ve created your playlist, and here’s one I created earlier using chapters from our books around the theme of perception in projects, you can share it with others by social media or email, and it will become a part of the searchable content on the platform, so that other users can benefit from how you see projects, or an aspect of project management.

Thank you for listening. If how I see projects peaked your interest, than I hope you’ll take a moment to visit this site to explore the new platform, and to get a sense of how you might use it. I’ve included my contact details on this final slide, so if you’d like to know more, than just go to the website, or contact me directly by email. Thank you very much.

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Time Management

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Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork to introduce another little anecdote from my book, “Overview of the PMBOK Guide.” This one is to do with time management and the point is that we don’t usually need permission to use time. We can be late and we say, “We’re sorry.” For money, we have to ask permission in advance to sign it in principle. The story here is very short and I once worked in a company where long coffee breaks were normal. Nobody seemed to need permission. It just happened. Even if we were told to take shorter breaks, we could still have taken the usual long ones. If management demanded an explanation, we would excuse ourselves and probably do the same in the next day. In fact, we would probably say we were using the coffee break for a deep discussion.

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.

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Quality Management

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Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir again from Scatterwork for another anecdote from the book Overview of the PMBOK Guide. The topic here is quality management. This time I have two stories. The first one is about the quality of management itself and then the second one is the quality of the project.

The first one. The project manager had a small team. He told them there would be a weekly meeting every Monday afternoon. The first week, everyone was present. The second week, the project manager knew he was going to arrive late and telephoned ahead to ask the meeting to start without him. The third week, he said he couldn’t attend and delegated the meeting chair to one of his team members. Unfortunately, he did not brief this person about everything and in any case the manager didn’t want to delegate. The fourth week, the manager did not come to the meeting and just told the team that he was unavoidably engaged. The point of this particular anecdote, which of course really happened, is that quality applies in projects, not just to the deliverable, but also to the style of management.

Now, I have a second little anecdote here to do with quality in projects. I once worked in a computer factory which made standard models. As the orders came in from different countries which needed different keyboard layouts, the manufactured items were taken apart and reassembled with the right keyboard so the work that had been done was being wasted and then replaced by more work. It’s hard to find the value of add on in this process and I hope that such practices have long since gone.

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% discount on their first workshop.

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Do you use Expert Judgement?

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Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork with another anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK Guide. This time, it relates to expert judgement. Now expert judgement is something that we use to help us decide what to do in projects, and we as experts and we ask consultants, we ask senior managers and so on. Sometimes, the experts are not so visible, and as we see in this particular real story.

I once visited a factory making radiators for heating buildings. It was located near the Atlantic coast in the far north west of Ireland. The radiators were getting damaged in transit and various experts were asked to find out what the problem was. Eventually it was discovered that the packaging wasn’t good enough to protect the radiators on the road journey. In those days, the roads were really not good, and it was the delivery lorry driver who identified the problem.

Luckily, they were clever enough to include this experienced person in their investigations. Even though few would have called him an expert, but indeed his expert judgement was the thing that saved the day.

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.

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Kai Halbach, Coordination SIA Form Suisse romande

In unserem Webinar zum Thema “Gestion des risques” hat Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir seine langjährigen Erfahrungen zum Thema Risikomanagement sehr interaktiv, professionell und gut verständlich an die Architekten und Ingenieure vermitteln können. Wir danken Ihm für das hervorragende Webinar!

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How can Scatterwork add value for you?

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The Penknife and Book? They are prizes for two lucky correspondents, to be drawn on 31 March.

If you have not signed up for the Scatterwork Virtual Project Newsletter, you can do so here.

A classic way to reduce risks: delegate!

Miniature Swiss Army Knife
Miniature Swiss Army Knife

In any business, development is achieved by progressively delegating more and more. The more tasks that are reliably delegated, the greater the business capacity.

Delegating is a key element of how the economy works and brings many advantages:

  • You can get more done with the same time input from yourself
  • By delegating to experts, they can do the work more efficiently and with less risks than you can, so the results are better
  • Experts are repeatedly doing the same thing, so develop less complicated (=cheaper and faster) ways of working
  • You can then focus on something else which has even more impact.

Delegate the sharing of know-how using workshops, mentoring and training.

You can of course spend a lot of time with your staff to help them plan and implement projects, however you would probably be happier if you could simply wave a magic wand and see your team perform.

OR you can delegate this support activity to experts, which brings all the benefits mentioned above:

  • You can get more done and faster, without having to go through learning cycles.
  • The knowledge transfer to your team is better, less risky, less costly and takes less of your time.
  • You can then focus on something else which has even more impact (Q: where have I already heard that?)

Results-oriented Project Workshops achieve your Business Objectives

Training can be an efficient way to share know-how, but is inherently slow because the participants apply what they learn AFTER the event.

Workshops are results-oriented, at which there is sufficient sharing of know-how to support IMMEDIATE implementation during the results-oriented Virtual Workshops, giving you immediate benefits:

  • The business’ benefits immediately from the improvements
  • The quality of the work benefits from the experience of experts
  • You increase what you can achieve with the same effort
  • Your reputation as an delegator is improved.

How can we add value for you?

Zürich zu Fuss durch Stadt und Land – the latest beautifully handpainted guide for walkers from Hannes Stricker.

How best to harness the global project experience of Scatterwork is for you to decide.  

Scatterwork specialises in:

  • Project Management and Virtual Teams
  • Online Workshops and Training
  • Project mentoring, online or onsite, in English, French or German.

We just need to know what area we can help you to start off.  Please tell us which of the following “Virtual Workshops for Virtual Teams” would be most useful to you, by filling out this short survey, which refers to the following workshop options (or just contact us by any of the usual methods):

  • Manage your Project Risks! Identify and address current project risks.
  • Develop your Virtual Team’s Operational Guidelines: Great for team building and cooperation.
  • Kick-Off your Virtual Project: When the team must deliver immediately without the luxury of meeting face to face!
  • Plan your Team Communications: Helps target the information flow and avoid costly communication delays.
  • Manage your Project Phase End: Critical control point which requires a lot of organising and follow through.
  • Re-Launch a Troubled Project: Get your project moving again, e.g. after a change of leadership or serious slipping.

Your inputs are greatly appreciated, thank you!

The Penknife and Book? They are prizes for two lucky correspondents, to be drawn on 31 March.

If you have not signed up for the Scatterwork Virtual Project Newsletter, you can do so here.

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Project Manager Tips – Communication

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Project Manager Skills

Business Team
Image courtesey of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I read project manager job descriptions, they often seem to be written for superman or superwoman, as they require skills in a huge range of areas.  Typically they include leadership, self-starter, analyst, motivator, not to mention negotiator,  as well as coach and team builder and so on.

Is it really possible to find all these qualities in one person?  Even if the individual is very competent, every person has their own preferences and style and cannot possibly be an expert in everything.  Somebody who is analytical and great for planning may be not so good at negotiation, or the competent leader may not be so good at the detailed work.

The conclusion is that these shopping lists of project manager qualities may all be desirable, but that they will not all be provided by the project manager. Here are some project manager tips you might find helpful in both building and learning these skills.

A Project Manager Priority – Communication

So if the project manager is unlikely to be master of all possible skills, which ones are really essential, assuming that the other skills will be present in other members of the project team?  High on my list would be Communication skills.

One way of looking at project management is that the leader (also known as “project manager”) takes the role of communicating the vision of the completed project to the team members and other stakeholders, even before the vision is realised.

This is a challenge.  Even when something exists and is generally accepted as useful, it can still be very difficult to get everybody to work towards the vision.  There is an old story where the bricklayer was asked what he was doing, to which he replied “building a wall”, while his colleague answered “building a cathedral”.  They were doing the same work, but one lacked the vision.

Team Motivation also depends on understanding the relevance of what has to be done and deciding that it is worth the effort.  Again, communication is a key project manager skill, so that the team understand not only what has to be be done but why it is important.

This leads me to Communication as one of the most important skills for the project manager.  Good communication can be used to share bothe project vision and how to achieve it.

Communication can take many forms

Active Listening
Image courtesey of Marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In it’s most direct form, communication is simply talking but in our modern world, communication can take a very wide range of forms.  Some of them are particularly useful for project managers, such as:

  • Gantt Chart
  • Schedule Network
  • Earned Value
  • Resource Levelling etc.

Other communication methods are not restricted to project management, but are certainly also useful:

  • Social Networks
  • Live Presentations
  • Reports
  • Photographs
  • Telephone
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Automatic translators
  • Meeting Minutes
  • eMail and so on.

One of my favourites for the project manager is “Active Listening“, where the listener stops doing everything else and pays attention to the speaker.  This is one of the most powerful Project Manager tools, both to get the work done and to build up team spirit and mutual respect.

If the listener multi-tasks (looks at the ticker on the computer screen, reads mobile phone messages, flicks through brochures or reading material and so on), while pretending to listen, the reaction of the colleague is likely to be negative.

The opposite scenarios is far more conducive to the sharing of motivation and vision which a project manager needs. Simply by agreeing within a project team that meetings will take place without multitasking is one of the easiest ways to improve project team communication.

 

 

 

 

 

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Breakout groups by language

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Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork. I’m here to bring you another short video about one of the benefits of virtual training. We’re talking here about replicating the traditional classroom environment with the benefit of the internet.

One of the benefits is that participants can be put into groups for discussion, or for working on activities, or developing ideas according to language. Normally in a traditional live environment, the training is carried out in one language. With the internet interface, we can group people. For example, difference offices of the same company that are sharing the same training. Though this is really good because when people are discussing, they much prefer to speak their first language and although they may well be able to interact and understand and so forth, if a presentation in, for example, in English, it does improve the discussion if people are also able to work in their own language.

So that’s a very unique advantage of the virtual training environment. Now we’ve put together a list of these benefits in a survey and we invite you to help us write these benefits by going onto the link associated with this video and giving us the benefit of your thoughts. Also, if you’ve had any specific questions that you’d like answered before going ahead with virtual training from Scatterwork, then please make sure that we’re aware of what your queries are. Thanks very much. We look forward to hearing from 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.

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