Structuring Virtual Teams Essay

This paper will discuss the approaches to the creative process, work design, leadership structure, and principles to make ritual teams successful. It will conclude with my personal assessment of the documents covering these elements. Approaches to Creativity Team creative processes and how teams go about problem solving fall into one of three approaches (Memoir, 2004). The first being the linear approach, which is viewed as a logical problem-solving process (Memoir, 2004) such as the eight-step Simplex Process developed by Min Bastard (Middleton. Com, 2007).

The second is the intuitive approach, which involves intuition and insight (Memoir, 2004). The last approach is the continental approach here the creative process becomes more of an element of the continental models of creativity (Memoir, 2004). When dealing with virtual teams these three processes become more simplistic. For instance, the linear creative processes for virtual teams tend to include four steps instead of eight (Memoir, 2004). Additionally, virtual teams are often provided with a defined problem at the start thus eliminating some of the more traditional steps of the linear approach models (Memoir, 2004).

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Intuition and insight also play a role in the creative process for virtual teams but are more focused during the initial agreement of which ideas should move on to the next stage (Memoir, 2004). All of these differences can be attributed to the fast pace communication done electronically and the need to be cost-effective while at the same time responding to the demands of their customers and the evolving market (Memoir, 2004). Work Design Work design deals with how a team moves through the different stages of the creative process regardless of which process is chosen.

There are three generally accepted options for work design (Memoir, 2004). The first of the three designs is the wheel design, which involves a single individual, who is insider the leader or supervisor, and a collection of lower level members (Memoir, 2004). The lower level members directly communicate to the leader and the leader disseminates the information to the other members (Memoir, 2004). For this design to work, decision-making must be centralized and there must be little to no overlap of the assigned tasks to be completed (Memoir, 2004).

Additionally, Lower level members must have the knowledge required to work on their tasks by themselves thus creating trust between members (Memoir, 2004). In the Modular design there is an initial meeting to determine hat needs to be done and tasks are then divided out to each team member (Memoir, 2004). The final product is assembled at a later time by one of the team members (Memoir, 2004). In the modular design there is a democratic decision-making system (Memoir, 2004) as opposed to an individual decision maker.

For this design to work, the roles and responsibilities of each member must be clearly defined, there must be an increased sense of accountability, and the project must be able to be easily divided up amongst the members (Memoir, 2004). The third approach is the iterative approach. Just as in the dollar design, work is parceled out to each of the members but there is more collaboration between members due to the requirement of back-and- forth feedback to complete the overall project (Memoir, 2004).

This approach is utilized when the project requires more interaction between team members and works best when team members are willing to share, provide honest feedback, and team members are comfortable with differing points of view (Memoir, 2004). For virtual teams it has been shown that the iterative approach can prove to be more effective but the majority of teams utilize the heel or modular approach for fear of a lack of time required to make the iterative approach successful (Iberian Global, 2012).

Ultimately, it is important for team designers to consider the type of creative task that needs to be accomplished, the timeshare involved, and the resources available to determine which design would be best suited for the overall project. Leadership of Virtual Teams There are four types of leadership structures which include a permanent, rotating, facilitator or coordinator, and leaderless structure (Trident university, 2014). The type Of work design that is chosen for the virtual team ill allow for an appropriate leadership type to be selected.

For instance, since the wheel design requires a more centralized decision-making process it would make sense to select a permanent leadership structure. The rotating structure could be applied to the modular approach since leadership roles are rotated amongst all members, thus creating a sense of flat hierarchy (Trident University, 2014). For this leadership structure to work team members must have equal leadership abilities and be willing to step down from their position when the roles are rotated (Trident University, 2014).

The oscillator or coordinator structure doesn’t have a formal leader but is self- managed and requires a high level of communication between all members (Trident University, 2014). This type of structure can be applied to the modular design but would be best suited for the iterative approach due to the increased level of communication necessary to be successful. The final leadership structure is the leaderless structure in which all team members have the same status with equal responsibility (Trident University, 2014).

For this leadership structure to be successful there must be a high sense of accountability and commitment as well as a high level of trust amongst all members (Trident University, 2014). This type of leadership structure can only be paired with the iterative work design due to the increased need for communication among all members and the necessity to share information. Leadership Practices According to Seabirds, Hodge, and Ernst (2009) virtual teams have greater challenges to overcome than collocated teams, but with the correct practices in place virtual teams can often outperform their counterparts.

Furthermore, regardless of the type of work design chosen and the leadership style applied o that work design, when these practices are put in place there is an increased balance of togetherness and apartness between team members and the overall project is more successful. One of the practices mentioned is to establish and maintain trust through the use of communication technology (Malaria et al. , 2007). This can be accomplished by setting norms on how to communicate, such as where to post, when to post, communication etiquette, and document ownership (Malaria et al. 2007). Setting these norms are important because many virtual teams struggle without face-to-face immunization and a lack of a formal process for communicating (Malaria et al. , 2007). Virtual team members also come from diverse backgrounds to include “experiences, functions, organizations, decision-making styles, and interests (Malaria et al. , 2007). ” To combat these challenges leaders can develop an ‘expertise directory’ where other members can see how each member adds value to the team (Malaria et al. , 2007).

Virtual teams can also have a hard time brainstorming ideas in a virtual setting, so it is important to manage virtual work-cycles and meetings (Malaria et al. , 2007). To ensure his principle is met leaders should attempt to have regular all-team audio- conferences that include an element Of Structure (Malaria et al. , 2007). These meetings should have pre-meetings in which an agenda is created, supporting documents are made available and individual team member progress reports are created and displayed (Malaria et al. , 2007).

Additionally, team members can get to know each other outside the focus of the project during the start of the virtual meetings (Malaria et al. , 2007). They should also have regular “check-ins” during the meeting and post an after action lists for members to review (Malaria et al. 2007). All of these techniques allow for leaders to maintain each team member’s attention and focus when other elements such as multi-tasking are trying to pull them the other direction. Another principle deals with the challenge of monitoring team progress when there is no face-to-face communication (Malaria et al. , 2007).

Leaders must be able to determine who is actively participating and who may need a little shove in the right direction. Reasons for disengagement can include lack of technical expertise regarding communication tools, personal life issues, underperformed with the intent to coast, and lack of titivation (Malaria et al. , 2007). Leaders must find a way to encourage connectedness from each team member throughout the entirety of the project. Personal Assessment In review of the readings for this module I believe that the most helpful and accurate information came from the document by Maltreat et al. (2007) titled “Leading Virtual Teams. The tips that were mentioned in this article have been supported by more recent articles such as in the Harvard Business Review (2013) article titled “Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles. ” In this article the author also highlights the need to establish ground rules for immunization and discusses the need to keep members engaged through regular meetings (Watkins, 2013). The article by Memoir (2004), which discusses the selection of an appropriate work design, is also very informative but it only focuses on teams that are currently using a specific work design or a combination of work designs.

It leaves the question open as to whether the work design chosen by each team was the best approach given the nature of the project. Should some of the teams have chosen a different design to be more successful, as briefly mentioned in the Iberian Global article (2012) that pushes for the iterative approach? Conclusion As virtual teams become more of a norm, it is important to understand the creative process, how teams problem solve and how these processes can be tailored for a virtual team.