Friday, May 15, 2009

What's Up Doc?

I'm not much of a Twitterer myself, but I can see the value for members of virtual teams who want to feel more connected. There are, of course, multiple uses for such a tool, including learning. I just came across this piece from ABC News about the use of Tweeting during surgery. It opens your eyes to the potential of this microblogging service.

Don't be alarmed! I'm sure the patient survives.

See Why Doctors Are Tweeting here!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Making a Business Case

Annoying executives want to know WHY? When making decisions about introducing new ways of working (among other things)they're usually not satisfied with what, where, when, who and how? Tell me, WHY?

Here is something to tell them:

British Telecom is saving itself $355m a year through efficient use of conferencing. That figure is worth repeating - $355m or 238m British pounds! Whatever way you look at it, that's a lot of money. This figure comes from BT's Agile Working Practice, and was reported by (thanks to my TMA World colleague, Steve Pritchard for pointing it out to me).

In 2007, BT's 107,000 employees held some 751,000 audio, web, and video conferences with an average of 12 participants in each one. Conferencing is part of a holistic approach to thinking about how work gets done - making better use of company property, reducing CO2 emissions, flexible working and improvement of work-life balance, and reducing business travel. In the last 12 months,BT has reduced its expenditures on air travel and accomodation by around 70 percent.

So, there is something to say when you're asked "WHY?"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You Got Virtual Rhythm?

A recent research report (Synchrony and Cooperation, Psychological Science, Volume 20-Number 1)) by Scott Wiltermuth and Chip Heath of Stanford University reinforces the view that human beings - along with much else in the natural world - are built to synchronize - coordinate their actions. Cultures abound in rhythmic rituals like group dancing and chanting (e.g., football fan singing)that have the appeal of enabling us to perform together in time. Synchrony appears to be built into our brains in the form of mirror neurons - imitation has been key to the emergence of cultures and human survival.

The researchers wanted to find out if collective movement triggered a more cooperative spirit, and to do this they devised some experiments. In one experiment, To quote from a Scientific American article about the study, "Relative to students in a control condition, who had simply ambled about, the students who had walked in lockstep around the campus were more cooperative in subsequent economic games, felt more connected to each other and trusted each other more . . . Participants were willing to incur direct costs to themselves to cooperate with the students with whom they had synchronized."

In both of the experiments, the participants were physically together. How do we support the 'urge to merge' in a virtual environment and build the cooperative spirit. Rhythm is the key, creating that sense of marching, dancing or singing together - finding the heart beat of the team. Rhythm created in team rituals, communications, meetings, and processes. Without rhythm, a virtual team loses any sense of cohesion.