Ellen Johnson had just completed her first month as manager for succesful company that provides a variety of web-based services and solutions. Last week, she was informed that she would be the new leader of a team that included 10 individuals. To her surprise, not only were these team members diverse in terms of their functional training and expertise, but they also represented a variety of culture backgrounds and only three were located in her office building. She quickly learned that 7 of 10 individuals actually worked from their home countries that included Japan, China, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Colombia, and Egypt. Up until this point, this "virtual team" collaborated on projects by using a variety of communication tools, including instant e-mail messaging, telephone calls, videoconferencing, document sharing, and occasional meetings at head quaters. After reviewing some of the past meeting notes and communication transcripts among the group members, Johnson realized that many of the team members had very different communication styles and levels of proficiency in English.
The team's new assignment was an important one. The 10 members needed to develop and roll out a new product within the six weeks. This was in direct response to a new product just by a major competitor. To complicate matters, a six-week product development cycle was unheard of; until this point, the company's turnaround time for a new product offering was approximately three months. The company had no choice. If they did not counter the competitive threat immediately, then the company risked losing some key customers and market share.
Johnson researched the past performance of her newly inherited virtual team. Although the overall quality of past decisions was quite high, the team seemed to take several months to make those decisions.This was a potential problem for Johnson. Time was no longer a luxury. She has to figure out a way to encourage the team to move faster without...
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