Virtual Teams

Measuring the efficacy of virtual teams

Have you ever thought about measuring the efficacy of virtual teams, and would you like to know what makes for a successful team?

I am sure the answer is yes to both these questions. However, if we then go on to ask have you every actually measured the efficacy of any of your teams, from our own experience we know that for almost all teams the answer is no.

One way to measure how good your team is by using the Global integration remote team diagnosis tool.  This gives you a semi-quantitative reading of your team because it compares (and hence benchmarks) the scores from your team to series of questions with those from other teams drawn from a wide range of geographies, functions and organizations.  This diagnosis tool also identifies specific areas for improvement (and we can provide tools to deliver that improvement.  In addition by doing tests both before and after, you can also measure progress.)

By contrast, I recently reviewed an article recently that tackled this question from a slightly different standpoint.

The study looked for the key factors that will make a team successful in advance of it actually doing anything (the antecedents).  Put it another way “What is it that a team and it’s people need for the team to be successful”.  Clearly if we knew this, we could then set up the team to be successful by choosing the right people in the first place, or ensure that they had the correct skills.

The article was written by Mark Fuller, Andrew Hardin and Robert Davison and found in the winter 2006-7 edition of the Journal of Management Information Systems.  The context for their study is “technology mediated” teams, by which they mean teams that work with and through technology (i.e. ones that have limited or no access to face-to-face meetings).

This study concludes that there are two key things that underpin successful virtual teams.  The first is what the authors call “group potency” and the second is “computer collective efficacy”.

What does this mean to the layman?

For a team to be successful, firstly the team must believe that it will be successful (which I take to mean general belief in the other team members) and secondly the team must believe that it’s members are computer competent (which I take to mean a general belief that the team is computer competent.

This is well worth bearing in mind. It illustrates particularly the importance of both being computer competent and being seen to be computer competent.

Efficacy in Technology-Mediated Distributed Teams, by Mark Fuller, Department of Information Systems, Washington State University; Andrew Hardin, The College of William & Mary, USA; and Robert Davison, Department of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong. Journal of Management Information Systems, Volume 23 Issue 3, Number 3 / Winter 2006-7, pp 209-235

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