How to keep everyone on the same page

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‘How to keep everyone on the same page’ a short video from scatterwork.com. In team work commitments matter, colleagues undertake work expected that the others will also deliver and of course this principle applies to life in general not just a business.

So commitments are important and we share them by a combination of person-to-person communication and keeping the commitment visible. So to keep it visible or to keep everyone on the same page, we publish the team commitments in a format that is easy to read, easy to find and easy to review.

If we do this we can keep their commitments in front of people’s eyes but if the commitment is deep inside some document after several clicks it will never be rates and of course we give praise friend praises due to people who meet their commitments and we do that in public.

So to discuss your project issues please contact with me over LinkedIn or any of the other methods.

Thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Online Training for Project Management & Team Building.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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Don’t risk being late!

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This video from Scatterwork is entitled “Don’t risk being late!” We are talking about projects where the triple constraint is well known. I was once talking to somebody who put it this way. He said “in a project you can have it quick or you can have a cheap or you can have it good.” The punchline is: Which two of those do you want? There are other parameters but usually these are the three important ones. Sponsors need to be pinned down and say of the three which two they want. if they say they want all three,that’s not very realistic. All companies have some way of controlling budgets, money, expenditure and so forth so the “cheap” part is covered by the normal process. In the same way, most companies have some sort of quality approach, quality control and so forth. That corresponds to the “good” constraint.

So that leads us to the conclusion that for a lot of project managers,the thing that we need to prioritize is Time. We look after time and then the system’s look after the other ones. So if you’re interested in these topics or want to discuss your own project, please
connect with me through LinkedIn or any other way. 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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Be a part of the project takeover!

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Hello this video is about taking over a troubled project and the reason it’s troubled is that it’s not meeting expectations: of time, cost, scope, quality and so on.You have been brought in to “achieve” where the last project manager is said to have “failed”. The key issue here is: who is doing the expecting and what are their expectations? Are they realistic? Are they unrealistic?  Or maybe they have not been properly informed what is happening. So what we’re going to do here is review the project and go right back to the beginning of the planning and reconnect on the expectations at every stage. This will be your project takeover. We iterate through all of that so that by the time we finish, we have a plan which has been agreed. So we will start probably with the project charter – get agreement on that-that is what they say they want – and then we do a scope statement based on that and if necessary in getting agreement we adjust the charter again.

Then we move forward to working out the work breakdown structure so that we know what the work packages are and again we cross check with the scope statement and when that’s all ok, then we move on and review the schedule and so on. At each stage if we get a comment “well, that does not fit what I want”, the question is “what would you like to change?” We can move the pieces around but things that are are not workable or very serious is when somebody says “OK, i want you to work an extra 50% – I want you to do two projects at once – I want you to work all weekend every weekend”. Those sort of comments are not very realistic and if you agree to them,you have a high risk that you will not meet the expectations and then you’re back in the old problem.

So you have to be very realistic there and one approach to that is:when there are trade-offs, to offer maybe three options. If they say that they don’t like any of them you say: “yes, I know that but that is a logical follow on from what you said you wanted”. Now that we’ve got the renewed plan we can start doing the management and we come into the team.This is a well-known model which suggests that if people are of low maturity for projects, then when they come into the work, you give them high direction and low support. You just tell them what to do. As they get better you move over to here, to No. 2. You still tell them what to do but you also support them and show them how to do it and so forth. Bit by bit they get the idea so you continue to give them high support but you drop your directiveness.You are less directive. You help them but you don’t tell them what to do.And then when they get really good,then you can give low direction and low support.

If in this journey you find things don’t work very well, then you can backtrack. Probably the safest place to start is up here because you don’t annoy people. If they are very experienced and you tell them what to do, then you have lost them.   But if you start up here and it doesn’t work you can always backtrack. So if you would like to discuss any of your project issues with us please connect with me through LinkedIn or any of the other ways.
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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Best methods to set up a call for mutiple time zones

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This video is about best methods to set up calls for multiple time zones. The challenge is that except for very local projects contact with other time zones is an everyday experience. Global time zones change depending on the time of year so there’s no single point of reference and in fact in some countries there is no change.

Time zones must be respected for successful live contacts. So here are some examples of the complications that can arise when people are in different zones. Within a zone it’s fine.

China uses one time zone even though the country is several time zones wide so people get up at different times of the day depending where they live.

In India the standard time zone is aligned with a half hour in most other zones. This allows all of India to be on one time zone, which is convenient for India but it’s slightly different if you’re dealing globally.

Then Europe and North America both change from summer-time to winter-time, or daylight saving time, but they don’t change on the same date. So that means that the difference between them changes twice a year.

So one simple solution is to send an invitation using an ordinary meeting function through your email, but do it while in telephone contact. Then the person who gets it will see the time and if it’s not right, they could say “please resend that for an hour earlier” for example.

By doing that you can find a time. This is not very good when there are lots of participants or they are in different time zones and indeed it takes a lot of time because both people have to be online to do it.

A better approach is to use an application which presents two or three time options to the invitee and they can select the one they want and click on it. Because these systems check the calendar of the sender, then if a time is selected, it’s a free time. So you cut out altogether the telephone so there’s far less effort. But as well as that, you don’t need to be on line at the same time. However a lot of these systems work for single meetings: one person with one.

Another alternative is to use an application which allows people to view the time of the meeting but when they look at it, their computer will convert it into local time and handle all the time zone issues.

We use this at Scatterwork to schedule our global workshops. The initiator can send a time; other people can look at that time in their own computers. So for example, here you see that the time of the meeting was set for 3 p.m. But on the computer where I viewed, it there was an hour difference between universal time and my time, so it shows me my time as well. Here it just says “by the way, there are eleven days before this meeting”.

Now, if other people get the same link, when they look at it, this line here about your time will be different depending on where they are. So that’s a very convenient thing when the central point has to choose a time and say “this is the time, please check what it is in your time zone”.

A more reliable approach is to use a process to set up meeting times. This involves adding steps in. For example a manager may wish to check their calendar for availability.

To control processes like that needs something more complex and we use for example Kissflow but there are other products out there and they manage the sequence of actions in the cloud and across time zones. So that if for example you say “send out the time for a meeting” and then the next action is to check it, then there is a delay until everybody has said “I’ve checked it”. So that’s more complex but more reliable approach.

This is what one of those workflows might look like. It has several steps in it and it takes some time to set up, but if you have big meetings or important meetings, it might be worth doing this.

So the summary is that simple methods are not really adequate in the global environment. Informal methods take time they take a lot of effort and they are likely to result in mistakes. And the third option is to live with the complexity of multiple time zones and used better tools and methods.

So if you are interested in any of these issues, please do contact us at scatterwork.com and we’d be happy to talk to 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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Living with diverse culture in Virtual Projects

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Hello! This short video from Scatterwork focuses on living diverse culture in virtual projects and presents three survival hints.

The first is to recognize that the chances of cultural mismatch between, for example, people in different offices in different countries or different parts of the world is very, very high.

I’ve got here seven features that you might have which are different between two different offices, for example different delays between speaker and response.

In some cultures, when you speak you have to wait until the other person is finished and then you answer. And if you don’t they get a bit annoyed. But in other cultures the response comes and people talk at the same time. If these response habits don’t match, then you can have an uncomfortable situation.

Or maybe they use different dialing codes for telephone for international codes or different ways of writing the number down with plus and zero and so on.

May be different times of the year for changing between winter and summer time (that’s between winter time and daylight saving time). If it’s not at the same time of year you have a chance that meetings will not work properly because the time coordination wasn’t good.

So I’ve got seven features that may differ between two offices. Just imagine that there were five options for each of these, then we have have seven times by 5, that is 5 by 5 and so on combinations that could occur between these two offices, 78,000.

The point is that there are so many different options that you’ve got a good chance of hitting one of them and of course you always hit it by mistake.

So then the next survival hint is if this happens not to react immediately to an unexpected response. If you get something you don’t expect and you react immediately then you have a good chance the other person will not be very comfortable. But if on the other hand you delay your response,, they might think “why isn’t he answering?”. A delay is less likely to end up in a conflict situation.

And I remember one time long ago presenting an unexpected situation to a friend of mine and instead of reacting, he just stopped for a few seconds and then he said “…………..O.K.”.

By doing it that way you avoid the row.

And then the third survival hint is to introduce extra process steps for improved reliability. For example don’t just rely on an email
“please send me so-and-so” but then follow it up with a phone call and read through the email together and listen.

It may be that was said or what was written down wasn’t exactly what you thought or maybe maybe the right thing was written down in you misinterpreted it. So by having two steps you have a
better chance of compensating for this complexity.

So there you have it: three things:

one is recognize that the chances of cultural mismatch are very, very, very high;

and then if you get some sort of funny response or something you’re not expecting, wait give yourself a bit of time before reacting;

and then the third one is to introduce extra process steps for reliability. Don’t overdo it but don’t assume that what works in the single culture environment will actually also work in a multicultural environment.

So if you’re interested in discussing your own project issues, please connect with me by any of the usual methods: through the website at scatterwork.com, newsletter, LinkedIn, telephone, email and so on.

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

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

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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

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You create errors; Communication solves them

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Hello! Here’s another short video from Scatterwork, this time about errors in work and using good communication to solve them.

In a project environment there are deliverables to be delivered, in other words there is work to be done; it has to be done the right way; in the right place, at the right time and so on and the big challenge is usually to fit everything together.

Very often the technology is well known and the company is doing projects similar to the last time so it’s really this meeting of minds which is the hardest part.

Well, we want to understand what the other person is saying and they want to understand what we are saying. They say that there are three different ways of learning; three ways we can think of communicating.

One way of learning is by sound. For example I knew somebody who used to remember telephone numbers by the tone that the dial used to do; they used to have a tone for every number and she used to remember the tune.

She was a musician and that was her way of communicating.

Other people are very vision oriented and it’s much easier for them to understand what’s happening if they get a little picture and this is why PowerPoint slides are so successful.

And then another way of learning is by movement; for example if we say “we’d like you to make a picture of this” and you draw it. The actual doing of that somehow communicates with our body and it helps the memory.

Now, with virtual teams we don’t have that third one but we do have the first two. So what I would suggest is to use a combination of communication styles and to stimulate a combination from the people that we’re trying to understand so that we really understand what they’re saying.

We can get our ideas together and then agree what needs to be done.

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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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

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Scatterwork Guest: How Visual Thinking Can Improve Team Trust

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Hi I’m Howard Esbin and I’m a co-creator of a creative trust game for virtual teams called Prelude.

Prelude is a facilitated game for virtual teams that accelerates trust and improves collaboration prior to a new project, training program or educational course. Basically, it improves visual thinking.

The features of the game: In one system there are five human development tools.

-There’s a component for character assessment.
-There’s a component for EQ development or social-emotional skill development, soft skills is another term for it.
-A collaborative team building component.
-A diversity training component and
-a creative training component, all in this one system.

And underpinning the game system and design are twenty virtual team best practices that we’ve identified through original research.

The game process is a facilitated series of activity modules as you see illustrated.

There are four modules in total and the purpose of the process is to take team members from an I-centric perspective to a sense of “we as a team, as a whole” with an awareness of how each member thinks and communicates distinctively and an awareness of how the team as a whole, through this creative activity can best draw upon their shared diverse skill sets.

The benefits are very simple:

There’s strengthened soft skills for that virtual team, improved communication,a better appreciation of diverse assets, an enhanced positive team mental model of itself, more effective collaboration and as a consequence increased well-being.

Thank you 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: Beware of Project Bias

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Project Bias or how our psychology undermines perceptions and decisions.

Projects are meant to be diligent,almost scientific undertakings with carefully planned business cases, weighted risks and detailed procedures and governance. But the reality is that everyone is biased and these biases affect the way we see the world, the assumptions we make and the basis for all our decisions.

The problem with any bias is when it’s unconscious. If you know for example that you tend to be over-optimistic in your view of the future,then you can make sure other people know this about you and you can take particular care to make sure you have mitigated any risks may cause.

My name is Jonathan Norman. I’m the publisher at Gower Publishing and I’m going to share a couple of striking examples of project bias and offer you some advice on how to deal with it.

We all like to believe what we want to believe and as a result we all fall foul of confirmation bias from time to time.

Arguably project managers are more prone than others because there’s so much pressure to provide hard evidence when he you’re making a business case or advocating a change.

Essentially confirmation biases are inclination to put unjustified weight behind selected pieces of evidence because they support or confirm some aspect of our Project. I suspect that illusion of control is the most challenging bias for project managers not least because people expect us to be in control.

But don’t ever be tempted to assume that because you’re planning your schedule map out the way a project will run that you control the project.

Remember, if you ever find your risk riding superhuman power to your ability to deliver outcomes the benefits associated with your project and only be realized by the users and if you think you can control customers, employees or other users,then clearly you are deluding yourself.

In many situations including projects, people resist change and this is a really compelling reason to do it, most often because we believe the changes will make things worse.

Look at the recent FIFA elections and the re-election Sepp Blatter. How many of those voting were more concerned about what the absence of Sepp might do to the continued commercial success of FIFA and investment in football in their country than they were by the prospect of a fifth term with Sepp.

I’m not telling you about project bias to trip you up or make you feel bad about yourself or other people but here are five simple tactics you can use to mitigate the problem.

The first thing is to recognize that project bias happens. Everyone is subject to bias.

Secondly, try to keep things simple. Bias is far more apparent in situations where decisions and solutions are transparent.

Thirdly, ask yourself what happens if i’m wrong or if we are wrong. Just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean it will never happen. Make sure you have a backup plan.

Fourthly, check the sources of your information. Risk registers and benefit maps can look imposing and authoritative but to what extent are they based simply on someone’s perception as opposed to actual research.

Finally be suspicious of your bias, particularly if it is pronounced and particularly if you’re dealing with a genuinely new situation but it’s hard to categorize on the basis of prior knowledge. But don’t discount you bias out of hand. Biases are developed from our experience of prior events so they can be very useful radar systems if something is going wrong.

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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