Scatterwork Guest: How to start your Meeting with a Virtual Icebreaker

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Icebreaker games are something that you would normally do in a collocation.

Today we’re going to do that online in an online meeting, something quite different. Some of the things you’ll see on the screen are cues for us to be able to have some fun together. We can see which locations we are from; we can see Macdara is in Switzerland. I also have a fortune cookie; everyone gets a fortune cookie, another item for us to discuss before we start the game.

Once all participants are online (we can have up to 10 participants) we will go ahead and start the icebreaker game. I just get a warning saying that people won’t be able to start, if I start it.

The first element which we are going to do is something called the dream vacation,talk about her dream vacation together; that’s the name of this particular ice-breaker and everyone has an opportunity to type in what their dream vacation will be.

I’ve got mine pre-done. I’ll go ahead, and type it in, as well as my friend will also type theirs in. Once I’m done typing, I hit continue – its waiting for everyone to do their responses.

On this screen we get to find out who’s done which dream  vacation. Obviously with two people it doesn’t make as much sense as if you had five or ten people on the screen. I’m going to go ahead make my guess and say that I like it and then I continue on to the next screen and I’m waiting for my friend – there we go.

As the moderator I get to choose to expand on my experience. In this particular instance I’ve always wanted to go to Tahiti. I want to experience the local culture, be able to do some scuba diving, just see as much as I can about the islands. I’m not much of a  beach dweller so I wouldn’t spend too much time there.

Once I hit next it goes on to the next individual to expand on their experience. They would talk about how they wanted to go to the north pole before it melts and when that person is done they hit next and that goes in the same same way through all the participants. So Macdara,  go ahead and hit next.

Then we get a summary of what’s happening. We can see who’s done what, who’s got correct guesses.

There’s been “likes” received. Once we get to this stage we’re able to continue with our meeting more invigorated. We’ve been able to learn a little bit more about each other.

I’ve learned quite a bit about co-workers like this. I learned that I’ve got friends that are pilots that I never knew are pilots before; that were certified scuba divers I never realized that before so it’s been an excellent experience for me.

I hope you enjoyed it thank you, Gerard Beaulieu of Virtualicebreakers.com.

 

Scatterwork supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Balance your Virtual Team using Personal Assessments

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Hello! This short video from Scatterwork is about balancing your virtual team using personal assessments.

In any project we need a mixture of people who have different skill sets, for example we need somebody with vision – a project is something we haven’t done before and somebody must have a very clear idea of what it is we’re trying to do because not everyone has that skill.

Then other people are skilled in completing work; others may be less able to finish things and of course the project that’s not finished is not complete.

And then we need people who can help the team to work out what they need to do next so that’s a human skill.

So we need a mixture of skills and there are many commercial methodologies available that can be used for teams do this. They are normally based on some sort of a questionnaire where the individual’s work out their score and then they come together and check: do we have an overlap; do we have lots of people with the same style within the team? Or do we have gaps and if we can fill the gaps that’s good; if we can’t, then maybe we need to think about how we compensate for that.

So the comment in this video is to think about using these methods also for virtual teams.

It actually has an extra spin-off because at the beginning and before we get involved in the project itself, we need that extra input of effort so that people work together. Filling out one of these evaluations and then sharing the results is one way of developing the team. So as the saying goes “two birds with one stone”.

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

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Scatterwork guest: How do we Talk about Strategy?

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Should we change the way we talk about strategy?

Most people don’t understand strategy. It may sound obvious but the reason why many strategies are never realized is that most people in large organizations don’t understand what the strategy means, even if they know of its existence.

Senior managers assume that their employees understand them when they talk about strategy. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and indeed strategies are often articulated in a way that makes them impossible to deliver.

My name’s Jonathan Norman. I published nearly 120 books on projects and programs for Gower Publishing and I wanted to talk to you about the subject of strategy.

Have a look at some of your current strategies. If they aren’t as effective as they could be, it may well be because they’re written in a language which is far too vague and fails to understand the role of the users in the equation.

Or perhaps on the other hand they are hugely detailed and run into pages of documents so that even the most enthusiastic employees
struggle to see the wood for the trees.

I have used the ideas in Phil Driver’s Validating Strategies to highlight some of the most common problems associated with the way we talk about strategy.

Exploratory Verbs:

Words such as explore, investigate and address are exploratory words. They are useful in early-stage high-level aspirational strategies when the main work essentially involves framing and sense-making the opportunity that the strategy will endeavor to see.

But as strategies move from the aspirational to the more operational, they are of much less value and can signal a delaying tactic to avoid taking concrete action. And using further reviews or investigations to give an impression of useful activity.

Improvement Verbs

Because they point to the need for change but their main shortcoming is that they provide no indication of how that change will be implemented. Think of words like enhance, improve, increase and consolidate. These are all words in this category and all require more specific action-oriented verbs as well as measurable targets before
they can be used at an operational level.

Certainty Verbs

Certainty verbs appear to convey confidence that the strategy will have the desired effect but they are generally illusory. One of the most popular of these verbs is “ensure”. However comforting the word, there is no such project action as “ensure”. Organizations may take actions which have a high likelihood of producing the desired result but they cannot ensure that the community will use the outcome nor can they ensure the benefit.

Collaboration Project Verbs: Collaborate, cooperate, engage have become popular as words in recent years, particularly in the public sector where there’s been a belief that
collaboration, cooperation and engaging are universally good things. This means that they often appear in strategy documents with little indication why they will add value to a strategy or how they will be applied in its implementation or development.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the repeated theme in all of this language involves
exaggerated claims for certainty, outcomes and benefits of projects that will deliver the strategy. It’s only human nature to express confidence and show a tolerance for risk and uncertainty. None of this language is wrong or bad in itself. The danger lies in the meaning that’s intended.

Now this communicates a strategy to stakeholders and strategies that
misuse this language create an environment for projects that are challenge before they’ve even started.

Thank you for listening.

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

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Holding Team Meetings doesn’t need to be stressful

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This is another short video, this time about the stress of travel for training. We all know that training is easier when we can come together and we can share ideas. But, traveling for team meetings can be stressful and should not be overlooked. For example, we have to stand in security queues. We eat at the wrong time. We get late night taxis to hotels. And then, it also generates stress by the time it takes out of our working week. We have to make up the time when we get back to base. This is a bit like going for a swim. Maybe driving for an hour, getting there, doing half an hour of a swim and then doing an hour of a drive back. The actual amount of time on the swimming is very limited compared to the effort. So, sometimes it makes a lot of sense to think in terms of virtual workshops for virtual teams. That’s the idea I’d like to leave you with tonight. If you have any queries about that, please do get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you. 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.

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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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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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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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Shorter training sessions are viable

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Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, continuing our series of videos about the benefits of virtual training compared to face to face training. We’re not talking about webinars, but more about duplicating the normal training environment with the help of the internet.

This has lots of advantages. One of them is that it’s easier to schedule the participants. This indeed could be a reason why training can go ahead that might otherwise be impossible. It’s fairly obvious: people need only to schedule the time of the actual training, whereas any other type of physical meeting requires time to get to and from the meeting place. Even when people are in one building, that takes some time. If they’re scattered out across the world, then that’s a serious overhead.

That’s one of the benefits. We invite you to help us rank these benefits by clicking on the link of the survey associated with this video. If you have any queries before proceeding with a trial of this type of training, then please do contact us. 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.

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No dead travel time

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Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, continuing our series of videos about the benefits of virtual training compared to face-to-face training. We’re not talking about webinars, but more about duplicating the normal training environment with the help of the Internet through virtual training sessions.

Virtual training has lots of advantages and one of them is that it’s easier to schedule the participants and this indeed could be a reason why training can go ahead that might otherwise be impossible. With online training there is no “dead” travel time for any party and absolutely no travel expenses that would be considered an expensive overhead.

It’s fairly obvious; people need only to schedule the time of the actual training, whereas any other type of physical meeting requires time to get to and from the meeting place. Even when people are in one building that takes some time. But if they’re scattered out across the world then that’s a serious overhead. So that’s one of the benefits. We would ask you and invite you to help us rank these benefits by clicking on the link of the survey associated with this video. If you have any queries before proceeding with a trial of this type of training, then please do contact us. 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.

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Virtual Training is easier to schedule

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Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, to continue our series of videos about the benefits of virtual training in comparison to face to face training. We are not talking about webinars, but more specifically, about duplicating the normal training environment with the help of the Internet.

Virtual training has lots of advantages. One of them is that it’s easier to schedule with participants. This indeed could be a reason why training can be completed that might otherwise be impossible. This benefit of virtual training may be fairly obvious. People need only to schedule the time of the actual training, whereas any other type of physical meeting requires time to get to and from the meeting place. Even when people are in the same location, meeting face to face is time consuming. If participants are scattered out across the world then that can cost a serious overhead.

Virtual training has many benefits and this is one of the best advantages. We would like to invite you to help us rank the benefits of virtual training by clicking on the link of the survey associated with this video. If you have any inquiries before proceeding with a trial of this type of training, then please do contact us. 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.

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