TED Talk – Painter – VOSS Team Results


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Practitioner Implications of NSF-VOSS - Comparative Study of Virtual R&D Organizations

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  • The THEME is DESIGN using STS methodology.The FOCUS is on COORDINATION.The APPLICATION is in VIRTUAL (or Distributed) Work Settings.
  • The SIGNIFICANCE of a focus on COORDINATION in VIRTUAL ORGANIZATIONAL SETTINGSIs PUNCTUATED by at least 3 Observations about what is happening in the emerging world of work.
  • What do we MEAN by COORDINATION? AND the documented evidence in the VIRTUAL SETTING of Global Software Projects is that the IMPACT ON PERFORMANCE is substantial!WHY?—Jay Galbraith refers to Coordination as THE CENTRAL PROBLEM OF ORGANIZATION DESIGN, particularly in the Information Age.SO, we believe that COORDINATION is an important focus in the DESIGN of Knowledge Work in VIRTUAL ORGANIZATIONAL SETTINGS.
  • Drawing on the work of Galbraith, Mintzberg & Others, FROM THE FINDINGS IN OUR VOSS COMPARATIVE STUDY OF VIRTUAL R&D ORGANIZATIONS, we have developed a more detailed MODEL of this relationship between varying levels of TASK UNCERTAINTY + significant COORDINATION MECHANISMS.The Model STARTS with differentiation of the UNKNOWNS in different TYPES OF TASKS within a CONTINUUM of R&D activity.Continuum---Bell Labs Portfolio of Projects and ADAPTED by Carolyn Ordowich
  • We believe it is possible to GENERALIZE this Model of R&D activity to a differentiation of various types of NON-ROUTINE, KNOWLEDGE WORK across, in effect, a CONTINUUM OF TASK UNCERTAINTY
  • AND THEN, the relationship we found (in our NSF-VOSS research) between different VIRTUAL R&D PROJECT types + different Types of COORDINATION MECHANISMS—we believe is GENERALIZABLE to different Types of VIRTUAL WORK with different Levels of TASK UNCERTAINTY + their corresponding COORDINATION MECHANISMS for effective performance.So, in a general way, this model can help inform one’s choice of coordination architecture for work in a virtual organizational setting.
  • However, in order to select the SITUATION-SPECIFIC & RELEVANT COORDINATION MECHANISM(S), we can use our VOSS Research experience to ILLUSTRATE the value of STS Design methodology for non-routine work.START with identification of the KEY DELIBERATIONS associated with the task at hand.
  • Then, what are the potential or actual BARRIERS to KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT affecting each of these deliberations.
  • And FINALLY, what are the specific COORDINATION MECHANISM(S) that can make the MOST SIGNFICANT Impact to MITIGATE the main BARRIERS in the context of specific VIRTUAL WORK.
  • In SUMMARY, what is important to note is the ‘ORGANIZATIONAL CHOICE’ and variety of Mechanisms used for effective COORDINATION in each Virtual Organizational Setting—Success requires utilizing elements of BOTH the SOCIAL and TECHNICAL sub-systems, and it is a SOCIOTECHNICAL Perspective that anticipates such a combination of coordination elements.
  • TED Talk – Painter – VOSS Team Results

    1. 1. STS DESIGN for COORDINATION of VIRTUAL (Distributed) Work STS RT TED Talk on ‘Innovations in Practice’ Boston, MA October 2013 PRACTITIONER IMPLICATIONS of NSF-VOSS ‘Comparative Study of Virtual R&D Organizations’ by Doug Austrom, Betty Barrett, Betsy Merck, Bert Painter, Pam Posey, Ram Tenkasi NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION GRANT VOSS: VIRTUAL ORGANIZATIONS AS SOCIO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS October 2013
    2. 2. Background: 3 Observations about the emerging work world  “From Virtual Teams to VIRTUALITY in TEAMS…where a mix of face-to-face and technology-mediated interactions are used…and prevalent in modern forms of teamwork.” – Dixon & Panteli, Human Relations, 2010  “In the new order of business…with more and more decentralized decision-making…we need to move from command-and control to Coordinate-and-Cultivate.” – Tom Malone, The Future of Work, 2004  “Coordination is the major challenge of global projects…the fundamental problem is that many of the mechanisms to coordinate work in a co-located setting are absent or disrupted in distributed work” – James Hersleb, Global Software Engineering, 2007 STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 2 October 2013
    3. 3. 1. Foreground: Meaning & Significance of Coordination in Organization Design “Coordination focuses on the activities that need to be done and the relationships and dependencies among them…[so as] to enable a group of people to produce good results.” - Tom Malone, The Future of Work 2. “Choice of best coordination architecture can lead to at least 20% improvement in time/cost performance.” - Moser & Halpin, 2009: Decade-long study of Global Projects 3. “As the amount of task uncertainty increases, (and therefore, information processing increases), the organization must adopt coordination mechanisms which increase its information processing capabilities.” - Jay Galbraith, Organization Design: An Information Processing View STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 3 October 2013
    4. 4. Model of Six Stage Continuum of R&D Work R 1 R 2 D 1 D 2 D 3 Exploratory Development Work Advanced Development Work Start-Up (pilot plants, beta testing) Development Work KNOW KNOW WHAT WHAT Pure Research Work Applied Research Work DON’T KNOW DON’T KNOW WHAT WHAT we are looking for (i.e. end state or objective) DON’T KNOW KNOW DON’T KNOW DON’T KNOW HOW HOW HOW HOW to carry out the research to carry out the research to achieve it IN DETAIL to achieve it KNOW WHAT Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 Scale-Up (volume & costs) Development Work KNOW WHAT KNOW KNOW HOW HOW OPERATIONALLY CONCEPTUALLY to achieve it to achieve it HIGH Uncertainty STSR VOSS TEAM D 4 LOWER Uncertainty 4 October 2013
    5. 5. TASK UNCERTAINTY Continuum for Knowledge Work ‘R1’ ‘D4’ DON’T KNOW DON’T KNOW KNOW KNOW KNOW KNOW WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT we are looking for (i.e. end state or objective) DON’T KNOW KNOW DON’T KNOW DON’T KNOW KNOW KNOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW to carry out the research to carry out the research to achieve it IN DETAIL CONCEPTUALLY OPERATIONALLY to achieve it to achieve it to achieve it HIGH UNCERTAINTY STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 LOWER UNCERTAINTY 5 October 2013
    6. 6. COORDINATION Across the Continuum of Task Uncertainty R1 D4 Shape and Reinforce Drive Problem Solving Converge Convey Mutual Adjustment Standardization Rules Based Peer-to-Peer Hierarchical Exploration Prescriptive Uncertainty Certainty Mystery STSR VOSS TEAM Heuristic Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 Algorithm 6 October 2013
    7. 7. Key Deliberations: ‘Choice Points’ in Knowledge Work processes  Key Deliberations are patterns of exchange and communication in which people engage to reduce the equivocality (or uncertainty) of a problematic issue  The salient elements of a deliberation include the Topic, Forums, and Participants STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237  Examples of Key Deliberations in NSF-VOSS Comparative Study of Virtual R&D projects… • What Experiment(s) to run • How to Design the experiment • What Diagnostic instruments to use • Who will have Access to the data • What software Feature(s) will we develop • What is the Scope and time/cost Estimate of this work October 2013
    8. 8. Knowledge Work Barriers: Examples in our study of Virtual R&D Projects  Lack of available knowledge  Technical procedures in two different laboratories were discovered to be incompatible and initially prevented development of inter-dependent experiments  Lack of common frame of reference  Scientists from different disciplines interpreted the same data very differently or were accustomed to very different research procedures  Failure to share knowledge  Use of standardized data collection was seen by some researchers in different research institutions as an imposition over other data more suited to their own unique research interests  Failure to utilize knowledge  Corporate intelligence about particular vendor competencies was not utilized by an individual division in their vendor selection procedures STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 8 October 2013
    9. 9. Most Significant COORDINATION MECHANISMS to Mitigate Barriers In Different Types of Virtual (R&D) Work October 2013
    10. 10. Sociotechnical Systems Framework For Designing Coordination of Virtual Work STRATEGIES (Mission, Collaboration Agreements) STRUCTURES (Roles, Organization Design) TECHNOLOGY (Collaboration Tools, Media) PEOPLE (Skills, Relationships, Values, Communications) PROCESSES (Standards, Schedules, Plans) STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 10 October 2013
    11. 11. STS Design for Coordination of Virtual Work OPEN DISCUSSION STSR VOSS TEAM Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237 11 October 2013