Category Archives: Social Network Analysis

OMG: Virtual-Matrix-Teams

I’ve seen the Matrix Management structure get stuck in analysis and not achieve the desired objectives.

Add a virtual component and you have to take a different approach.  The authors of the paper Managing Collaboration: Improving Team Effectiveness Through A Network Perspective1 looked at team effectiveness in this environment for sales, innovation, and executive teams.

Early Thinking:

Cliques Are Not Teams: Watch for a coterie.  Teams can become insular: not seek outside expertise or data and inappropriately elevate individual team member expertise.  Effective teams focus a significant portion of their efforts outwardly.  Outward communications are predictors of high performance teams.

Don’t Collaborate With Just Anyone: Research indicates you need to be selective, people perform better when they invest in fewer quality relationships: as opposed to building larger networks.2.  Mom was right, don’t be promiscuous; be selective and seek contrarian views to prevent insularity.

You Can’t Virtually Catch Me: Have you participated in corporate team building exercises in which you fall backwards into a team member’s arms to build trust?  Not convinced that works: my point is our default thinking is to build working relationships via face-to-face communications.  I’ve lead virtual teams and never met members face-to-face.  Team building can be done virtually, but you have to focus on it.  Find ways to have one-on-one outside team meeting discussions as one example.

Blink Analysis:

Are the right connections being made internally and externally? Do not rely solely on traditional team evaluations such as process, strong team leadership, domain expertise etc.

Watch for teams becoming social gatherings and individuals that are relationship hoarders.  Consider 1) watching for groups becoming a social gathering and not working toward the business objective 2) beware of members that prevent internal lateral communications among team members or the sales executive that is overly protective of client relationships.

  1. R. Cross, K. Ehrlich, R. Dawson, J. Helferich, “Managing Collaboration: Improving Team Effectiveness Through A Network Perspective”, California Management Review, vol. 50, no 4 (summer 2008): 74-99
  2. J. Cummings, R. Cross, “Structural Properties of Work Group and Their Consequences for Performance,” Social Networks 25/3 (2003): 197-210