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Planning and Controlling Collaborative Teams
Diverse Collaborative Teams are a Key to Success.

Complex products and systems require effective teams. No matter how well-designed the product, it is only as good as the people who create and service it. As companies create larger teams to address the complexity, maintaining these geographically-dispersed collaborative teams requires more attention.

The challenges today are changing, because teams are changing. Rather than small, co-located groups, products and services today draw on skills that are widely dispersed. While the Internet now offers the necessary rapid communications to allow such teams, teams can only work well if the participating team members operate together.

Even in dispersed teams, cohesion is the key. Cohesion is defined as the degree to which team members like and trust one another. Repeated studies have shown that greater cohesion leads to better productivity, better decision quality, higher member satisfaction, greater member interaction, lower risk, and more.

Decades of study in team development, team effectiveness, and human problems analysis have developed ideas and solutions that are rarely known in systems engineering. Yet systems engineers need highly effective “people tools“ to use in their work. Some of the tools include:

Team Structure - Organizing a collaborative team so that it can work effectively when geographically dispersed.

Team Development Phases - What phases any team must go through, and how best to use those phases for the project. Understanding the goals and needs of team members during each phase.

Human Problems Analysis - How to analyze team problems and discover the root causes. Solutions for typical root causes in a dispersed, collaborative team.

Cohesion Techniques - Importance of cohesion. How to develop and maintain trust and understanding.

Team Communications - Types of interpersonal communications that always occur, and how best to use them. Differences between verbal and nonverbal communications. Tools available to communicate, and when to use which.

Structuring Team Communications - How to plan the communications infrastructure. Communications issues that must be considered and planned. Diagramming techniques and tools.

Essay date 21 Apr 02