How to make your Virtual Team work – Part 2

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This is the second short video based on the keynote presentation to the PMI Serbia Chapter Project Society Conference in Belgrade in September 2015.

In this section we’re talking about personal experiences of virtual teams and I’m presenting five of them: the first one involved a research team where everybody was in one city. We used to meet from time to time and in fact physically whenever we could. What was interesting was that when somebody was absent, they joined the meeting by Skype. One time one of the participants instead of being in Switzerland was in China and I hadn’t been notified in advance. I turned up to the meeting, asked where he was and someone said “oh that’s all right; he’ll join in anyway”. With that sort of environment where people are very used to using their smartphones, the interactions and the development of the project can be really very speedy, very fast compared to the old way of doing projects, where people used to hold their decisions until they actually met face to face.

A second format that I experienced involved bringing people together in the chapters of the Project Management Institute over all of EMEA, in other words from South Africa right up to Finland, which involves about a hundred and twenty countries. But this turned out to be particularly difficult because I think the people did not know each other. They spoke different languages, they had different cultures but there were also technical issues, for example some people preferred to join a meeting by telephone, others said yes, that was too expensive but they were quite happy with something like Skype. If you were on telephone, then you couldn’t share the slides and it took a lot of effort even to get consensus on things like how long the meeting should be, how often it should take place and what technology it should use. So that was a very challenging environment.

Another one that I’ve experienced involves PMI volunteers located globally.These people do in fact know each other and they meet each other once a year precisely to get to know each other. It’s called a planning meeting but it would be very hard to work if the people didn’t really know each other. It involves interviewing people and so that coverage can be offered globally.There are three people in each team and any two of them can usually make a meeting, regardless of where the applicant is.

Another format that I worked with was by having all the members of the team in one country.This meant that they shared language, time zone, legal environment and this made the contract issues easier.  From time to time there were face-to-face meetings but the international working was limited by the choice of language. If a project is going to be global, it really needs a global language or one that is at least spoken by the vast majority of the people involved.

And a fifth environment that I’ve had contact with was a network of teams. In the previous example it was a network of individuals but this has a disadvantage that if one person is away, than their skill-set drops out and they don’t really have anyone that they can brief. But by having contacts along the same lines but with teams means that when something needs to be covered, then another person in the team can be briefed and brought in. Also if there are problems or challenges or arguments, then it’s easier to change the people involved because there are more people there and that makes it easier to resolve.

However a feature of this type has been commercial differences an some of them very much unexpected. For example, between Europe and the United States there are very different ways of using banks. United States people use checks a lot; in Europe they have been superseded by electronic transfers completely. People publish their bank account number because all you can do with it is put money into it. In the United States there is a preference not to publish bank account numbers. So those sort of things can mean that the commercial interaction is that little bit more difficult.

So if you wish to discuss any of your own project issues with me please, to connect through all the usual methods either through our website at scatterwork.com and email phone, call or connecting by LinkedIn. I look forward to hearing from you, thank 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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Scatterwork Guest: Why must virtual teams have soft skills?

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My name is Howard Esbin and I’m the creator a virtual team game.

Virtual Team members need trust to collaborate effectively. The research shows that the lack of trust is fundamentally the greatest challenge that virtual teams globally are facing today. The research also shows that there is a direct correlation between social emotional intelligence on virtual teams, that’s soft skills, and the degree of trust that may manifest.

The research also shows that if there is limited soft skills,chances are trust will be affected and there will be a significant lack thereof. The challenge for virtual teams, leadership and training is that there is insufficient time to build relationships. There is an inability to read nonverbal cues and there’s a lack above water cooler moments. The goal for effective training is to actually create virtual water cooler equivalence and to promote symbolic communications.

The research further shows its symbolic communication and the equivalent water cooler moments are going to be tied to a variety of soft skill applications. Our original research has identified twenty best practices and when one looks at these in total,they’re all about engaging and connecting the whole person and virtual team emotionally at the start a project. These best practices help a virtual team,essentially of virtual strangers, break the ice and therefore provide the equivalent of water-cooler moments using online play, games and creativity.

In summary, why must virtual team’s have soft skills? To be productive virtual teams need to trust each other. In order to trust, virtual team members must be self-aware and pacific, appreciate their differences and communicate honestly. These are all soft skills. Thank you.
Virtual Teams (1)

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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Develop the Ground Rules together

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This is a short video from Scatterwork about developing the Ground Rules together for Virtual Teams.

Project Ground Rules are clearly stated behavior limits to which everyone in the project team agrees. We have them to make it easier to live and work together and it helps avoid extremes of behavior. However, rules can be ignored if they don’t make sense.

A place to start is sample team ground rules and there are many of these published and there is little standardization between them. Here you get the names of four different authors and some of the lists that they publish are very, very long.

Here is one suggested group of categories for them in one of those documents: Goals, leadership skills, roles, processes,interpersonal relations, accountability, client involvement.

But of course it really depends on your own project and if it’s a virtual project then you probably need things to do with time zone and being on time at meetings and things like that as well.

But whatever way you develop your rules it’s really best to do its in direct association with the project team members themselves because then they’re more likely to accept them. And when you have your rules do a final sanity check before applying them.

In this case here, a simple rule for dogs on the strand in the west of Ireland has a maximum fine of 1,269 euro 74 cents. Why such a funny number? Well, this is a thousand pounds in the old money before the euro was brought in but the sign post was translated and it doesn’t make sense.

So if you’re looking for support to develop project team ground rules, please contact us. 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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Clever Thinking delivers Project Value early

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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.

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Varied Participation increases impact

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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.

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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!

Read more testimonials like this one here!

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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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What NOT to do during teleconferences with your virtual team!

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Teleconferences are vital to globally dispersed teams, but sometimes it’s difficult to give them your full attention. In this video post I share a simple tip for making your teleconferences more effective.

Also, if you have any queries that you’d like answered before going ahead with the virtual training program with us then please do tell us. Use our FREE, no-obligation phone conference at any time.

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