What I Have Gained from the Virtual Team Assignment

I am so glad that this assignment is over. I learned a lot from it and am glad to have had the experience for that reason, but the sheer amount of time and effort that went into it was really surprising and frustrating at times. Writing my own individual section was fine. Once it became a matter of editing and unifying it with everyone elses and matters of overall report sections, then the real hardship began. I took on the section ‘conclusions and recommendations’ and literally spent DAYS writing it and rewriting it, trying to establish what peoples main points were, what they thought, and asking for specific recommendations, all while trying to write it to a specific template which would incorporate everything and cohesively bring together the entire report. Phew.

This is what I personally have learned from the experience;

1. Blogs are great communication tools for reflection. I researched blogs, had never encountered them before, but from using this one and setting up one for the team (though ineffective for teamwork) and have come to really enjoy them. They really warrant a reflection and thought on what you think, how you feel, and what other peoples’ opinions are.

2. Virtual teams require several modes of communicative technologies. One is not enough. For the various needs of any virtual team, at least 3 are needed (see previous blog post on ‘combinations of tools’).

3. Assigning team roles is important when forming a team. Team leader, timekeeper etc..Clearly defined roles enhace the progression of the team and decrease confusion and slack.

4. Being accountable to others can change the way you work. I had never worked as part of a team in this way before, and having to be accountable definately added another dimension to my work processes. For example, I can easily skimp on deadlines I set for myself, but in a team, this is not so easy. In general, I think it makes for increased incentives and can push you that bit further but only if…….

5. Everone on the team puts in equal amounts of work. It is frustrating to be a part of a team where others may be working less or supplying work to a lower standard. This, I think, is where assigning team roles can be of benefit.

And finally, its really hit home for me the possibilities and potential that technology has for communcation and collaborative work. To think that we successfully collaborated with a team in Florida becasue of these technologies is something that can easily be taken for granted but it is quite amazing and I can’t imagine what will develop in the future….

On another note, Our main Editor spent days upon days trying to unify and edit our overall document. I came across this interview with a documnet design expert on how to ‘effectively design documents without fuss’ http://johnnyholland.org/2011/02/17/effective-design-documentation-without-a-fuss-an-interview-with-dan-brown/


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shane O'Donnell
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 00:16:31

    Great summary of your experiences Katrina. I really lucked out in being part of team SSSTR. We discussed the broad structure of the different report sections on the discussion forums, but an additional tactic I used was to ensure that mine was submitted first. I was hoping that once the American students saw my structure, they would adopt it. In the end, they did.

    I fully agree with you that having other people rely on your ability to stick to deadlines is a great motivator. None of my team mates ever gave me any reason to doubt that they would deliver the goods; yet I often found myself just waiting for something to go wrong on the American end regardless. These fears were completely unfounded actually, but they persisted. I suppose that trust between virtual team members, while earned gradually over four weeks, is really only firmly established after the successful conclusion of the project.


  2. el6082katrina
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 01:43:10

    Hey Shane,
    That was a smart tactic indeed! It makes sense that everyone woul read the first submission and would feel thy should follow that template..good thinking.
    It’s funny that you say you didn’t fully trust the team members initially despite nothing happening to support that, I felt the opposite way. I initially trusted everyone (bizarrely) and only when we progressed did my trust start to wane. I found an article on this which dscusses the phenomenon of ‘swift trust’ that can often happen in virtual teams, and then progressively decreases.http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol3/issue4/jarvenpaa.html The article recommends certain behaviours which can promote the longevity of the intial trust.
    You obviously had a great team though, lucky you! here’s hoping our next team ventures ae as successful…


  3. Maresa
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 17:07:59

    Yes, that’s an interesting summary. Katrina, I agree with you. I also trusted all members from the very beginning. For fear of seeming naive, I looked up some articles also and discovered that this is not so unusual. I noticed this for instance from ‘Individual Swift Trust and Knowledge-Based Trust in Face-to-Face and Virtual Team Members’ (see the long link of the article below):

    ‘However high levels of trust have been observed among members of virtual teams, who often have little prior history of working together and may never meet each other in person.’



  4. Jeanne Lonergan
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 22:33:54

    The whole trust issue is interesting. I initially trusted everyone on the virtual team. It kind of didn’t come into it for me. I just assumed everyone would do their bit. But we experienced a difficulty with one team member on the Florida side. We should have been more assertive and spoke up sooner. But you kinda want to give people a chance. But it’s not a great strategy – hoping someone will come up with the work. In the future I would be wary of this. I suppose the whole experience has decreased my trust – but somehow I’m linking it to the fact it was a virtual team but in fact this shouldn’t make a difference.


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