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How Virtual is Virtual: Designing for Distributed Work in Innovation


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How Virtual is Virtual: Designing for Distributed Work in Innovation

  1. 1. Betsy Merck b e t s y @ m e r c k c o n s u l t i n g . c o m m a n d a n a g r o u p . c o m 5 1 0 - 6 6 3 - 1 7 7 9 S O C I O T E C H N I C A L S Y S T E M S R O U N D T A B L E N A T I O N A L S C I E N C E F O U N D A T I O N G R A N T How Virtual is Virtual: Designing for Distributed Work in Innovation Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237
  2. 2. Desired Outcomes for this Session Through dialogue and exercises, we have the opportunity to … 1.  Develop a shared understanding of the implications of virtuality on key conversations across the innovation continuum 2.  Consider how ‘fixes’ differ depending on the degree of uncertainty 3.  Explore the value of coordination mechanisms employed differently across the innovation continuum 4.  Consider the implications for leadership of virtual teams 5.  Contribute to a growing body of research on the impact of virtuality on key conversations across the innovation continuum April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237
  3. 3. Three Research Sites Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Caltech- Orchid Project: fundamental research, R1   Optical Radiation Cooling and Heating in Integrated Devices   Tightly-Linked Collaboration for Design of Experiments & Device Fabrication among Laboratories using 3 Technology platforms   Pasadena, Switzerland and Austria   Major challenge: creative research and design and knowledge generation in a complex virtual setting   NACC: a virtual R&D eco-system, D2- D4   Comprised of 29 NIA-funded Alzheimers Disease Centers (ADCs) and the National Alzheimers Coordinating Center Center (NACC)   Major challenge: Create Uniform Data Set agreeing upon and compiling data from the 29 different centers as the basis of research   LVG: a large video game developer, D3-D4   Core team with distributed vendors in Philippines, China, India, Switzerland, North America and across the parking lot   Major challenge: Cost effective game development work with high quality and timeliness completed at a distance for art production, engineering and testing April 2012
  4. 4. Grant Back- ground   University of Illinois and STS Roundtable   Seven member team   3 year grant   Supported by NSF-VOSS Award #0943237   In final year of the grant   Central Research Question: How do virtual modes of communication influence the quality of deliberations (key conversations) at various stages of the innovation process? April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237
  5. 5. Six Stages of the Innovation Continuum Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237 Pure Research Work Open Project Don t know what we are looking for Don t know how to carry out the research Applied Research Work Semi- Open Project Don t know what (i.e. end state or objective) Know how to carry out the research Exploratory Development Work Semi- Closed Project Know what Don t know how to achieve it Advanced Development Work Semi- Closed Project Know what Don t know how in detail to achieve it Start-Up (pilot plants, beta testing) Development Work Closed Project Know what Know how to achieve it conceptually Scale-Up (volume & costs) Development Work Closed Project Know what Know how to achieve it operationally R 1 R 2 D 1 D 2 D 3 D 4 April 2012
  6. 6. The Innovation Continuum April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237 R1 D4 Drive Problem Solving Shape and Reinforce Converge Convey Standardization Rules Based Mutual Adjustment Peer-to-Peer Hierarchical Exploration Prescriptive Uncertainty Mystery Heuristic Algorithm Certainty
  7. 7. Key Conversations in Virtual Art Production April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237 Scoping Vendors Vendor Selection Defining & Estimating Project Work Pre-Test & Trial Run Detailed Documentation & Requirements Art Assets Deliveries Initial Testing of Assets Debugging Re-Negotiating Project Work Contract Negotiation Critiques Critiques
  8. 8. Key Conversations/Deliberations: Definition and Elements April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Key Conversations are patterns of exchange and communication in which people engage with themselves or others to reduce the equivocality of a problematic issue   The salient elements of a deliberation include the … •  Topics or problematic issues facing the social entity about which people reflect and communicate •  Forums in which they occur which may be structured, semi- structured, unstructured or ad hoc •  Participants - both those who are currently involved and those who ideally should be involved in the deliberation
  9. 9. Examples of Key Conversations/Deliberations Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Orchid   What experiment shall we run?   How shall we design the experiment?   How shall we execute the experiment?   How do we make sense of the results?   NACC   What data will go in the UDS?   What diagnostic instruments shall we use?   Who will have access to the data?   LVG   What new features shall we develop?   What contractor shall we use for this work?   What will the requirements be for the contractor? April 2012
  10. 10. Examples of Knowledge Work Barriers Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Lack of knowledge   In the Orchid project, the technical procedures in two different laboratories were discovered to be incompatible and initially prevented development of inter-dependent experiments   Failure to utilize knowledge   In NACC, the perspectives of a few relevant scientific disciplines (e.g. bio-technicians) appear to have not yet been utilized in the ongoing development of the UDS   In LVG, corporate intelligence about particular vendor competencies were not initially utilized by an individual division in their vendor selection procedures April 2012
  11. 11. Knowledge Work Barriers Cont d Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Failure to share knowledge   In LVG, the test center did not understand the culture of the co- located team members and the development process   In Orchid, the graduate students were not comfortable sharing up what they saw and/or did not understand- F2F helped build trust   In LVG, due to IP concerns, unable to share mother code   Lack of common frame of reference   In Orchid, experimentalists from different scientific disciplines use different language and have different approaches to describe and interpret the same data   In LVG, the developers did not have a common frame of how to conduct tests of the game April 2012
  12. 12. Exercise Part 1 Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Spend 5 minutes and think of a past or present issue that you are aware of, with a team in your organization that has virtual components.   Where would you place the project on the innovation continuum, R1- D4?   What is/was the issue? What type of knowledge work barriers do you suspect were at play?   Let s share our examples and consider the learnings from our project to your examples   Large group conversation April 2012
  13. 13. Our Findings April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   The work characteristics are similar between face-to-face (F2F) and distributed   In a high velocity environment, take time early in the process to scope things out clearly with specificity   F2F is of value across the entire continuum   F2F appears to be critical on the unknown /R side of the continuum- where uncertainty is high   Reliance on divergence greater at R end of continuum, reliance on convergence, standardization higher at D end of continuum   Failure to utilize knowledge seemed higher in the D3-D4 side of the continuum   Rich media significantly adds value to coordination, cooperation, communication and commitment
  14. 14. Surprising What We Didn t Find   Relatively inconsequential …   Culture   Language   Time difference April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237
  15. 15. Coordination Mechanisms to Facilitate Innovation between Distributed Collaborators April 2012Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Mutual Adjustment   Direct Supervision   Standardization of Work Processes   Standardization of Output   Standardization of Skills and Knowledge   Standardization of Norms   Henry Mintzberg, 1979
  16. 16. Some Fixes Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Orchid   Temporary, co-location of scientist to build common frame of reference   Co-creation, mutual adjustment of new procedures   Develop personal relationships (trust)   NACC   Inclusion in conversations/deliberations of key technical staff   Clear, specific standardization of data submittal process   Purposeful social network that supports collaboration   LVG   Podcasts with the test center and core team during sprint cycles   Create new role of prime contact/supervisor with contractors   Chunk requirements of contractors deliverables to ensure on target April 2012
  17. 17. Implications for Leaders on Virtual Teams Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   See your role more broadly- from command and control to coordinate and cultivate- develop your facility to use more tools   Cultivate the ability to move back and forth across the innovation continuum as needed   Communicate using appropriate technology   Take time to build relationships   Develop and use processes that support coordination, communication, vision and direction and norm building   Ensure requirements are clear, specific and understood   Take some risks with processes and technology- experiment and acknowledge the learning that is transpiring   Be rigorous about monitoring/ chunking deliverables and progress April 2012
  18. 18. Exercise Part 2 Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   Revisiting the issue related to distributed (team)work that you were asked to recall and consider in Exercise 1 –   Was there an attempt to address it?   If so, what was it and how successful was it?   If not successful, why not and what was the overall outcome of the work?   What do you see as leadership implications? April 2012
  19. 19. References Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237   National Science Foundation Voss Team: Doug Austrom, Betty Barrett, Betsy Merck, Bert Painter, Pam Posey, Ron Purser, Ramkrishnan Tenkasi   (Supported by NSF-VOSS award #0943237)   Toward an Understanding of the Factors Which Enable and Obstruct Learning in New Product Development: An Action Research Study, Center for Effective Organizations, Purser, Pasmore & Tenkasi, 1994   Six Stage Continuum of the Innovation Process, Bell Labs & Carolyn Ordowich, and the Voss Team 2012   The Design of Business, Roger Martin, 2009   Six Coordination Mechanisms, Henry Mintzberg, 1979 April 2012
  20. 20. Appendix: Mintzberg s Coordination Mechanisms in Detail Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237 1.  Mutual adjustment   Coordination of work is made possible by a process of informal communication between people conducting interdependent work. 2.  Direct supervision   Coordination is achieved by one individual taking responsibility for the work of others. 3.  Standardization of work processes   Coordination is made possible by specifying the work content in rules or routines to be followed. Coordination occurs before the activity is undertaken. Mintzberg adopted Taylorism: procedures are usually specified by work-study analysis. April 2012
  21. 21. Appendix: Mintzberg s Coordination Mechanisms in Detail Supported by NSE-VOSS Award #0943237 4.  Standardization of output   Coordination is obtained by the communication and clarification of expected results. The individual actions required to obtain a goal are not prescribed. This goal setting method is closely related to Drucker's Management by Objectives. 5.  Standardization of skills and knowledge   Coordination is reached through specified and standardized training and education. People are trained to know what to expect of each other and coordinate in almost automatic fashion. 6.  Standardization of norms   Norms are standardized, socialization is used to establish common values and beliefs in order for people work toward common expectations. Mintzberg added this cultural based mechanism at a later stage. April 2012