Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Lonely Knowledge Manager Seeks Trusting Relationship, maybe more...
And here´s another quandry: in the past I´ve always rated virtual team working as a poor substitute for face to face (though better than nothing at all). Many KM articles assert the same - people need to see a face, shake a hand and all that before they´ll really open up. Ergo, virtual teams should meet at least once before they can operate successfully using collaboration tools like Groove.
The case against: There are now many accounts of people meeting electronically who fall in love and run away together before they ever meet. I read about one couple that exchanged 30,000 words in email in the space of a month. How many of your teams interact with even 10% of this intensity?

So clearly trust (and a whole lot more) can be established without face-to-face first. What matters is that its much easier to damage emergent trust online. So much more is missing (the bodylanguage, tone, chance to re-phrase when you see someone scowl etc.) so messages are more ambiguous. With dating-type scenarios, people are motivated to try much harder to get things right, to repair misunderstanding and keep the tempo up. You´ll never get that level of motivation in the office (not about work anyhow), but in the absence of motivation, education can go a long way.

Too often we just give people tools and expect them to get on with them. But Groove isn´t just another bit of MS-Office, and much more could be done to help people manage online working-relationships. People have managed this, stumblingly, with e-mail where emoticons (smileys etc.) replace some of the missing emotional bandwidth, but this is still missing from collaborative working rituals (not least because we don´t like to acknowledge emotions in the workplace at all!).

Must go - I´ve a chat going with this gorgeous blonde, 23, blue eyes who seems to know all about cars, soccer and hi-tech gadgets. Its almost too good to be true...

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