Being present.ly, managing virtual teams and gazelles

It’s very difficult to be a team these days when the players are rarely on the same pitch, and often not even in the same stadium. We build virtual teams by a common vision, task lists and almost endless number of digital tools for collaboration and communication. How can we make the most of the skills and energies of people who often haven’t ever met and who stare into screens for inspiration? Virtual team researcher Rebecca Jestice wrote this week on leadingvirtually, ‘for some projects or project phases, frequent, set meeting times are very important for continuing progress when working virtually – especially in a situation that requires a lot of creative energy and when one person is teaching or mentoring others for the project. Even if instructed to contact one another when something comes up, the tendency will be to not bother the person or try to save up all the ideas for one phone call or email that never seems to happen. It might be a bit more time consuming in the beginning to set up regular check-in meetings, but I’ve learned from this experience that it is, in the long run, the most efficient way to complete intensive, creative projects while working virtually.’ In November of last year I was fortunate enough to meet Verne Harnish, author of the Rockefeller Habits and founder of the growth consulting firm Gazelles, taken from the name given to a company which grows at 20% per year consecutively. Verne spoke of the key communication challenge overcome by successful leaders. Leaders of high growth companies achieve  “1% vision, 99% alignment.” In other words a vision is only successful if the entire organization understands that vision and aligns their purpose to it. The Rockefeller habits is predicated on 3 key items for the leader who has laid out the vision of the organization. Priorities – what the team will accomplish Data – how it will be measured Rhythm – when the players will talk to get into alignment At EASTWEST we have an annual theme, ‘adding value with every communication’ which we have translated into 4 quarterly themes: Q1 – Time is money Q2 – Customer is king Q3 – Who do we know Q4 – The digital agency Our Priorities are set by these quarterly themes and we set our priorities accordingly. Clients may here us mentioning our daily huddles, 15 minute daily task meetings, and 55 minute per week learning sessions. The huddles are where we focus on 3 tasks and 1 priority for our clients. Our consultants work three days per week from home, and so we conduct our meetings virtually and post our status on presently, an internal twitter. The huddles are our way of addressing Rebecca’s dilemma; ‘ ideas seemed so trivial that I didn’t want to disturb with something that seemed, at the time, frivolous. So I found myself spinning my wheels, trying to get my ideas solidified and down on paper before interrupting him.’ We thrive on interaction, and we need to make sure that this is structured with clients to make sure that 100% of the vision of the client is understood, which is why we developed a Service Level Agreement to accompany our contracts. We aim to add value with every communication and in doing so help our clients move as quickly as gazelles.

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