Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 55 of 75

Technology competition. We chose the following questions because they were easily comprehended, did not rely on tech- nical or industry-specific knowledge, and would have a great impact on the business: Don't Ignore Virtual Teamwork Twenty-first century leaders must understand the complex dynamics involved in leading virtual teams. by Adam Kingl While most business educators agree that students need to master the dynam- ics of successful teamwork, fewer are convinced of the importance of vir- tual teamwork. First, most educators assume the frameworks they teach in face-to-face leadership courses are equally valid for online groups. And second, practitioners are still in the experimental phase of using virtual teamwork, so they're hesitant to declare any conclusions on the topic. However, virtual teamwork will be a critical function in the 21st- century workforce—in fact, all of the students in our Emerging Leaders Programme (ELP) at the London Business school either currently work in at least one virtual team or anticipate doing so in the next five years. For that reason, we have 54 BizEd NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 developed approaches that focus on virtual teamwork, both in the class- room and in practical application. Putting 'Virtual' to the Test We have integrated a virtual emphasis into the ELP by highlighting existing applicable content and adding lessons that teach explicitly how to manage virtual teams. For instance, we added a virtual simulation that reinforces the program's core themes of mar- keting, strategy, and teamwork. Recently, we also experimented with requiring students to complete a competitive challenge, using both face-to-face and virtual methods. Before students arrived to the pro- gram, we asked them to submit pressing dilemmas that their com- panies face. We then identified two of these questions as most suitable for students to tackle during the 1. How could an international news division bring to life its new brand tagline, "Never Stop Asking"? 2. How could newspapers make money selling to a Google generation used to reading content for free? Students were split into two nine-person teams that incorporated a diverse set of expertise, nation- alities, and industries. They had one week to brainstorm and refine solutions to each question. They were allowed—and encouraged—to take advantage of the "wisdom of crowds" by soliciting input from people outside the program. There was one catch: Team A had to answer question No. 1 using face-to-face methods only, and question No. 2 using virtual methods only. For Team B, these requirements were reversed. When working virtually, students could use any tools or forums they wished, including video or teleconference, e-mail, or social networking sites. We also constructed a simple cus- tom Web site with the help of virtual consulting company How Might. The site allows teams to post, catego- rize, rank, and discuss proposed solu- tions. It also is accessible to external contributors, who can read the ques- tion and click through to review the team's written work. At the end of the week, the teams presented their conclusions to a panel of faculty and course facilitators, who scored the merits of each solution without knowing whether students ANDREW OLNEY/GETTY IMAGES

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of BizEd - NovDec2010