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Friday, 17 July 2015

Does your massive online open course (MOOC) require collaboration?

Learning Collaboration from Tiki-Taka Soccer
Solo efforts and individual stars used to decide the fate of soccer matches. The 1970s, 1980s, and even the 1990s were dominated by legendary players such as Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, and Diego Maradona, who, thanks to their skill and speed, found empty spaces in midfield, created the time to take the ball to the box, and then decided to pass or shoot at the goal.
                        
Just two World Cups ago, matches were won — and lost — by opportunistic passes and breakaway attacks that resulted in thundering goals; today, smart attacks consist of a multitude of passes, executed so quickly and by so many players that they take defenses apart. Some of the world's best teams have shifted from the traditional one-touch style of play to the tiki-taka style, which is characterized by short, fast passes and continuous positional changes and first used by the Spanish team.
     
Like soccer teams, companies too find that the environment as well as the pace have both changed in recent times. They must launch new products, for instance, at shorter intervals.

How to Avoid Collaboration Fatigue
It's nearly impossible to escape a meeting or conference call without someone touting the virtues of collaboration. After all, researchers have linked collaboration to increased innovation, and many have compellingly argued for collaboration's role in better leadership performance. Collaboration just feels right — like a big hug or a warm puppy.But collaboration also has an overlooked dark side.

Getting Virtual Teams Right
With more and more companies doing business in far-flung places and more and more employees telecommuting, virtual teams—those made up of people in different physical locations—are on the rise. Geographic separation can make it challenging for dispersed teammates to communicate and collaborate. But evidence suggests that if virtual work groups are well managed, they can outperform teams with common office space.

How Companies Can Learn to Make Faster Decisions
SpaceX had a problem. Managers at the aerospace manufacturer wanted to make faster decisions for one of their big clients—NASA—by finding alternatives to the high volume of meetings and cumbersome spreadsheets used for tracking projects. Initially, NASA sent a fax (yes, a fax) whenever they had a query, which SpaceX added to a list of outstanding questions. The company then assembled a weekly 50-person meeting to review product status information contained in spreadsheets, addressing each question individually before sending the responses back to NASA.
SpaceX's dilemma is not an uncommon one. In today's organizations, the speed of decision making matters, but most are pretty bad at it. One-third of all products are delivered late or incomplete due to an inability or delay in decision-making, according to research from Forrester Consulting and Jama Software. Others at Gartner cite "speed of decision making" as the primary obstacle impacting internal communication. No doubt you've been part of a team that waited… and waited… for a higher-up to make a decision before you could resume your work.

There's a Difference Between Cooperation and Collaboration
Everyone seems to agree that collaboration across functions is critical for major projects and initiatives. The reality, however, is that meshing the skills and resources of different departments, each focused on its own distinct targets, to achieve a larger organizational goal is much easier said than done. In fact, it takes much more than people being willing to get together, share information, and cooperate. It more importantly involves making tough decisions and trade-offs about what and what not to do, in order to adjust workloads across areas with different priorities and bosses. And despite all the well-meaning cooperative behaviors, this is often where interdepartmental collaboration breaks down.

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