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Tales from the battlefield…: 

Tales from the battlefield… Three case studies of innovative virtual management structures Javier Fínez – finez@mik.es

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Maier S. Coop How is their performance? What about their structure? Fagor Electrodomésticos Organizational Form Virtual Teams Case Studies MCC Graphics How does affect creativity? Communication patterns? Members isolation? Technological infrastructure? Leadership issues? Membership issues

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a small number of people (from two to twenty five) with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. “What is a team? Katzenback and Smith (1993) “What is a Virtual team? The Networking Institute (2000) although there is no clear, single definition, the common factor in most of them is that members of virtual teams (from three to twelve) are physically scattered in time and/or space and that their interaction is mainly electronic. “…movie industry works… “…you want to have the best… Ruben – Fagor Electrodomésticos:

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Plants structure (Eng, Design, Prod. Markt) Multi-plant knowledge Role of the leader Face to face Kickoff meeting Fagor Electrodomésticos Fagor Electrodomésticos is one of the major companies in the global home appliances market, operating in eight different business areas: refrigerators, dishwashers, driers, ovens. The company has 16 production plants in six countries across Europe, America and Africa, a presence in more than 100 countries and a staff of nearly 12,000 employees. “…Having some prior physical contact is a determining factor when it comes to working virtually. It allows people to get involved in the task, creates empathy among the different members, and makes them proactive and creative in problem solving…” “…Not because they know of the specific field they will develop, but because they have organisational and consensual skills, and are able to unify expectations and get the best out of the different team members “…This meeting gives the leader an opportunity to specify the goals of the OVT in a univocal way, thus ushering in the collaboration process so as to achieve the expected results…” How they organize?

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Organizational Form? Concentric spheres form Multidisciplinarity Satellite “This prevents them from being formed solely of experts in just one area who may set out looking at the problem from just their own point of view. As they work with experts belonging to other fields, they can look further to more daring solutions.” “… these spheres of knowledge usually correspond to the Engineering, Design, Production, and Marketing Departments of the different plants throughout the world…” “…Supervises the development of the project and might play an important role in the creativity aspect as has non-technical training which might help pose interesting and different points of view. “…Global view of the organisation and the skill to look for synergies…” “…Resorting to satellite is very rare; you are not supposed to do so unless it is a real emergency and only the leader is entitled to take this…”

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Plants specialization (Via. Stud, Prot., Prod. Dev, Qual. Cont) No leader In & out process Who is in the team? Maier Maier is part of the Automotive Division of MCC, set up in Gernika (Spain) in 1973, it manufactures plastic injection parts and groups of parts mainly for the automotive industry, but also for household appliances and consumer electronics. Nowadays Maier has five plants, sales of € 220 million and a workforce of nearly 2,200 people. “…members of the team are determined by the different stages that the project goes through and people availability …” “…which are characterised by being made up of members who cyclically go in, do their job, and leave, in order to successfully carry out projects…” “…the contribution to the virtual team of people from Design, Viability, etc. decreases, and new functions join in, such as the product developer, the production processes developer, quality control, simulations and so on, that take over the previous work and lead to further progress…” How they organize?

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Organizational Form? Spiral form Cyclical collaboration Intrinsic values Vs Team Setup Values “…Collaboration among the members of the team could be called ‘cyclical’; that is to say, each member works locally on his or her own part and shares his or her progress with the rest of the team members. It is a process we could call constructivist, moving forward along the spiral …“ “…As a general rule, all the departments in the different plants and in MTC collaborate in some way at some stage of a given project, which is a practice we have found especially satisfactory as it favours the transmission of knowledge and encourages creativity within the company…” ‘IV’, values intrinsic to the person, but affect group, can’t be transferred from one to another, and are difficult to measure: motivation, creative skills and expertise or knowledge ‘TSV’, which are extrinsic to the group, can be altered for better performance and are very easy to quantify: number of people working concurrently, member rotation, number of departments involved and the stage of the project.

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How it was conceived? Production is physical but Management… Natural selection MccGraphics MCC Graphics, the graphic services division of MCC, was set up in the late 1990s as the commercial and marketing image of four already established cooperatives: Elkar, Danona, Rotok and Evagraph establishing a major group in the commercial printing and publishing market. With 40% of production exported to France, the United Kingdom and Germany and total sales expected by the end of 2006 to reach €30 million, the group employs nearly 150 people. “…Each production site is specialized in a kind of job: type/size of printing, quality, packing...” “…I do not have a table and a chair in any of the factories, I just work from my home… Only first and third Friday of the month all the people from the management structure get together… For an average project a media of 7 people work together.. “…conceived to be absolutely virtual as a proactive response to reality, as a conscious gamble on creativity brought out by virtuality as opposed to the homogeneity generated by hierarchy and presence; in favour of collaboration between teams rather than competition among parallel productive structures …” How they organize? “…teams neither follow an obvious leader nor select their members beforehand, as in previous cases. On the contrary, they are teamed up through natural selection: “Following a customer’s call, commercial unit contacts people in charge of estimates, which in turn gets in touch with coordination, which in turn... And so on… till reach the production phase…”

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Organizational Form? Atom form Stable Virtual Teams Project Virtual Teams “…formed by people who share the same function in each of the four different plants, along with the international branches. These people share knowledge, a common language and insight. These stable teams are Commercial, Offers, Coordinators, financials, plant Managers and Production Managers…” “…the structure of MCC Graphics can be compared to that of an atom, with the nucleus (protons), the joint productive structure of the different companies, remaining mainly static. Around it, the virtual teams (neutrons) orbit and provide services to this productive structure…” “…are born of the ‘virtual resources’ of MCC Graphics and combine groups of five to seven people, each of whom belongs to a stable virtual team with their own particular field of knowledge, goals, tasks to develop and so on. These teams are able to provide, in a creative way and in a very short time, solutions to problems of logistics, supplies, resource availability, etc…“ Joint Productive Structure

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Some conclusions on Virtual Team Management ISOLATION: The above explanation of VT sounds idealistic, it also has its pitfalls, its darker side. Virtuality sometimes makes it easier for people to feel frustrated or confused, as well as making it impossible to unify the concerns expressed by different members. This produces a phenomenon of isolation, of getting lost in thoughts. REPETITITIVE TASK or highly hierarchical work environments, the fact that activity takes place under virtual conditions lessens the effects of these repetitive and/or hierarchical circumstances. It seems, therefore, that virtuality encourages dynamism and autonomy, which are working conditions that favour innovation. MULTICULTURAL approach constitute good starting conditions that encourage innovation in our teams. TECHNOLOGY: The concept of “Virtual Meeting” is more successful when all members of the team assume technology as a natural way of interaction, when they recognize and respect each other in this environment. FACE to FACE: Paradoxically, to reach this confidence level in virtual teams and to make stronger the feeling of belonging to the VT, face to face contacts in a physical space must be fostered SET OF RULES: Make clear form the very beginning the work processes, decision making processes, communication roles, responsibilities. CONFLICT RESOLUTION: For VT is specially useful to have a conflict resolution process, because specially personal problems are very difficult to resolve when you do not face the other person. It can be compared to a “long-distance romance” in that you have to pamper and look after it much more carefully than normal if you want to “keep it alive”.

Tales from the battlefield…: 

Tales from the battlefield… Javier Fínez MIK, S.Coop. Uribarri Etorbidea, 19 P. O. Box, 79 20500 MONDRAGÓN Spain Tel: +34 943719191 Fax: +34 943793999   A wider report on the VT field research: Contact me: Javier Fínez – finez@mik.es Book: Virtual Teams and creativity: Managing virtual teams effectively for higher creativity. (May or June 2007).

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