Remote working is all well and good, but as I’ve always said, unless the work is trivially straightforward, you need a pre-established good working relationship with the team; those you need to collaborate with remotely. And you need to top up that relationship, get re-aligned, back on the same page, etc with regular periodic face-to-face working sessions – real team-building.
Well now it seems that concept of regular rotations between remote and co-located working has a name – the Oscillation Principle. Sounds to me like maybe an overblown name with a much wider potential context for meaning, but hey, any name in a storm allows shared communication.
When team members perceive the possibility of embarrassment or threat, they act in ways that inhibit the team from learning; in short they remain silent or resort to meaningless generalities rather than risk negative consequences.
That’s shared embarrassment and threat notice – individuals are more embarrassed by the threat of embarrassment to others, than any direct threat to themselves – we’re all “man enough” to believe we can defend ourselves against invalid challenges, but we “feel for” or “identify with” others. And there’s more on the effects of silence – often hollow agreement – in team communication. You know the behaviour “All agreed ? OK? Anyone? No comments? So, agreed. Let’s move on to the next topic on the agenda.” Yeah, right, a sure sign a team is not really working. Also “sense-making” in the sense I’ve picked up from Dave Snowden before. Interesting blog Nancy Dixon’s Conversation Matters – hat tip to David Gurteen for the link.
Johnnie Moore also commented on this post :
I’m often inclined to say “can’t we just talk” when offered a complicated way of organising things, but of course it’s not as simple as that, as Nancy’s post elaborates.
I was particularly interested in the bits about how power(status) differentials diminish the effectiveness of groups. It reminded me of Matthew May’s story which really dramatised this point.
Having exactly that problem right now – where an “agile” project team has grown to a state where the “stakeholders” have imposed more formal management hierarchy, based on external organizational roles rather than knowledge within the project, and some of those individuals are in danger of using their “power”.]