Research has shown that the overall effect of working remotely is not necessarily detrimental to team performance. This is especially reassuring with team members dispersed across the country, globe, and with the onset of COVID-19. In fact, dispersed teams can outperform groups that are collocated if they have the proper parameters. This includes processes, task understanding, and a clear understanding of their contribution to the team (1).
Research has shown that the overall effect of working remotely is not necessarily detrimental to the team’s performance.
We developed a tool called the Pledge (Figure A) within our Exploratory PD® (ExPD) methodology that set the project team’s parameters. Hence, the team understands what needs to be executed by the assigned resources, the available budget, and the time to complete the task. We also included important product development and product uncertainty reduction objectives.
These parameters help keep the team on track, which is especially important with dispersed teams. Also, the project team can make smarter and faster decisions because they are closer to the project’s details. For the team to make good decisions, the team must have clearly stated parameters. It is management’s responsibility to provide the necessary guidelines and parameters so the team can make adaptable and fast decisions.
According to a paper on formal controls and team adaptability in new product development projects, the authors found that target rigidity and process autonomy support team adaptability (2). The study also found that enterprises can increase project success by using formal controls like the Pledge, allowing the project team to adapt to new circumstances like market or technology changes.
During these challenging times, your dispersed project team members must have clearly stated parameters to execute the project successfully and adapt quickly to changing market or technology changes.
This is an excerpt from our soon-to-be-released book, ExPD: Adaptable Product Development for a Changing World.
(1) Frank Siebdrat, Martin Hoegl, and Holger Ernst, How to Manage Virtual Teams (MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2009, Vol. 50 No. 4).
(2) Nina Detzen, Frank H.M. Verbeeten, Nils Gamm and Klaus Moller (Management Decision, Vol. 56 No. 7, 2018 pp.1541-1558, Emerald Publishing Limited).