Virtual Teams in a Global Environment

Here are my notes for a symposium held at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology on March 8, 2010.

Topic: Building and Managing Virtual Teams in a Global Environment: Moving Forward Through Matching Insights, Tools, and Technology


Stephen J. Zaccaro – George Mason University

Stacey Connaughton, Ph.D. – Purdue University

Anna T. Cianciolo – Command Performance Research, Inc.

David Harrison – Penn State

Team Composition: Basic Framework

1. Team Inputs  – > Team processes -> Team Effectiveness

2. Shortcomings. Much research has focused primarily on personality composition of the team. Need to focus particularly on taskwork and teamwork.

Staffing Framework

1. Taskwork Skills. Teamwork skills.

2. Generic skills. Specific skills.

References: Cannon-Bowers, Tannenbaum, Salas & Volpe (1995); Orvis & Zaccaro (2008)

Concceptual Model

1. Competencies (generic taskwork, specific taskwork, generic teamwork, specific teamwork) –> Team States & Team Processes -> Team Effectiveness

2. Quesiton: what team and mission characteristics influence the above?

Steps for Team Staffing

1. Four basic steps. ID the mission and skill requirements.

2. Select members based on generic task- and teamwork skills

3. ID specific task- and teamwork skills.

Team Parameter: Member Distribution

1. You need very good regulation skills to manage the challenges of electronically mediated communication and coordination of work.

Misc Notes

1. Characteristics of virtual teams can neutralize specific taskwork and teamwork skills

2. Findings: DiRosa et al (2010) found that dispersion of teams does neutralize certain teamwork skills. This study had subjects peform the Moon Survival Task.

3. Circumstances of team distribution: degree of media richness, etc

“The Communicatiive (Re)Constitution of Virtual Teams”

Presenter: Stacey Connaughton, Ph.D. – Purdue University

“The Communicative” in Extant Virtual Team Research

1. Communication frequency (Jarvenpaa et al, 1998; Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000)

2. Communication spontanaiety (Hinds & Mortensen, 2005)

3. Communication predictability (Connaughton & daly, 2004)

4. Communication/information adequacy and equity (Cramton, 2003)

5. Psychologically safe communication climate (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006)

6. Socially-related messages (Weisband & Atwater, 1999)

Reflecting on the above work: how to build on it?

1. Focus on the nature of interaction – the actual interaction itself matters

2. “The communicative” / communication is a social process. Can’t be understood in isolation. Need to examine (empirically) the communicative in relation to nature of its parties’ relationships to others.

A Research Problem

1. Geographically distributed teams often have limited opportunities for team members to meet in person and build interpersonal relationships.

Topic: The “Human Factor” of Virtual Work: Trust and Information Technology in Distributed Teams

Presenter: Anna T. Cianciolo

  1. Definition of trust – (adapted from Mayer, Davis & Schoorman, 1995) – willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of an object of trust (trustee) … in the absence of external controls and /or direct visibility on those actions
  2. Trustee behavior and trustor characteristics –> judgement — > action
  3. But Personal & situational factors also influence action. Need to understand the person-environment interaction and its implications.
  4. Measuring trust. Goal: account for the imperfect relation between affect and behavior while proposing a statistically tractable model.
  5. Affect: judgements of trustworthiness. Critical cues: represented, character, dependability.
  6. Behavior: action taken to mitigate risk. Risk managment = attempts to gain visibility and/or control.
  7. Distributed teams. Geographically dispersed. Technology mediated. Complex work problems. Horizontal structure / separation of power (different reporting structures). Diverse ethnically.
  8. Suggestions for fostering the trust process (calibrated trust) in distributed teams.

Topic:Leveraging Technology and Diversity For Team Performance: The Role of Variety, Disparity, Virtuality and Knowledge Sharing

Presenter: David Harrison – Pennsylvania State University

Research: by David Harrison and Ravi Gajendra (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  1. Knowledge sharing (KS) critical team process.
  2. FtF (face to face) only teams are rare. Most teams are primarily hybrid, collocated teams.
  3. Evidence from the past that shows knowledge sharing has an effect on performance. “Not a very risky hypothesis.”
  4. Results: Perceived variety of teams have a positive relationship to knowledge sharing.  Suggests that teams need to be aware of the differences between members. Having latent distribution of variety in the team is not enough. It needs to be uncovered to have an effect.
  5. Result: Disparity in leadership status and self-status had a negative effect on knowledge sharing.
  6. Result: Ftf communication and Virtual communication both had a positive relationship with knowledge sharing.
  7. Result: knowledge sharing had a positive relationship with performance.
  8. Result: no support for moderating effects on knowledge sharing.


Houston we have a problem. Leading through failure. EDUCAUSE 2009, Denver

Presentation: Houston, We Have a Problem: Leading Through Failure.

Presenters: James A. Jorstad, Ann Kovalchick, William A. Mayer, Hae K. Okimoto, Sherri Yerk-Zwickl

Link: EDUCAUSE 2009 page for this presentation

Here are my notes on this talk:

The presentation opens with a video about Honda, “Failure: The Secret To Success.” It’s from the Dream the Impossible documentary series.

Jorstad – A Space Design initiative

Know your landscape before taking off.
Know and understand how the pieces fit together.
Don’t got at it alone. Know your allies.
Understand your point of view and that of others.
Be aware of the view from more than 10,000 feet. Try to view your situation from the chancellor’s perspective.

Okimoto – Enterprise application adoption

Context: University of Hawaii system. 10 campuses. Goal was to set up a centralized student information system. They selected a vendor. But vendor then left. To recover from this, it was important to have a goal, a plan and a navigation system. She compared to the value of having a GPS when driving through heavy fog.

Mayer – Project Launch

Challenge he faced: library was going to soon run out of space in the stacks. He couldn’t just go to his tenured librarians for a solution. Couldn’t just go to students for a solution. They hired movers to move the books. Take away points: with small failures, find the ways to recover gracefully and establish comfort. With spectacular failures, lean into discomfort, don’t be afraid to learn, and remember the Mars Polar Surveyor.

Kovalchick – Portal Implementation

Challenge: Blackboard portal implementation. 8 months lead time. New account provisioning process. New Provost. Value added.

Failure: they found all new faculty could not access Blackboard. And HR staff were being blamed at first.

Assumptions about authority: positional. persuasive.

The “Do Over” – relational authority. Personal authority.

Yerk-Zwickl – graduate admissions application

The challenge: create a new graduate admissions application form. Improve the look and functionality. One college decided to go forward with a plan to create a new form but didn’t check with IT first. But IT used a third party tool to validate the form info to make sure it’s kosher before the data moves into the university’s system. Inadequate testing. Tempers flare. This process of poor collaboration or non-collaboration goes on for two years: and still no application form.

How did we get into this mess? An approach of “do first, ask later” combined with “ego issues.” It all circles back around to a communication failure on all sides.

What did we learn? Never underestimate the value of planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail. How we responded to those clients when they asked for help so late in the game, was really an issue for us. We should have stepped back to assess the situatino more carefully and proceed more carefully. All of the warning signs showed us that the communication piece is where the failure happened. Body language in meetings made it evident that things were “not pretty.”

Q & A time.

A question about failure and blame.

Kovalchick answers  “It’s okay to take the blame sometimes.”

Yerk-Zwickl says to get right past the finger pointing, and get on with fixing things.

Mayer says he has started projects by saying if this works, you get the credit. If it fails, it’s on me. That can put people at ease and make them warm up to the idea/iniative.

Okimoto – make sure you don’t go into a meeting unprepared. Be ready to say I’m sorry, I screwed up.

Question about projects that are going south that you inherit.

Mayer says not to get caught up on past failures of the project that’s going south. If you do that, you’ll get stuck and never move ahead.

Another question about failure and communication.

Kovalchick – I communicated seven time the same message in different formats. What I didn’t do is draw it out, put it in front of people responsible, and say, is this what’s going to happen on a certain date? Need to do the verification and triangulation of different modalities. We have to be more empathetic …

Okimoto – communication is key, but it is often about who communicates. Might need president or faculty senate chair to communicate the message (to lend more credibility to the message).

Jorstad – Many times it’s about the timing of when you communicate. I’m a visual communicator. Visual communications can have emotional impact. Key points: timing and visual learning/communication.

HathiTrust – Giving Birth to Collaboration / EDUCAUSE 2009, Denver

Presentation: Giving Birth to an Elephant: HathiTrust’s Story of IT, Libraries, and Uncommon Acts of Collaboration

Speaker: Robert H. McDonald, Indiana University

Resource: EDUCAUSE page for this presentation

About this post: these are my notes. Most of what I’ve written below consists of direct quotes or direct transcription from what was presented in the presenter’s slides.

HathiTrust is a shared digital preservation repository. Currently focused on Google Book content.

Two nodes are curently in operation: one in Indianapolis and one in Ann Arbor. They’re working on adding a third node.

Mission and goals: contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.

Governance model: executive committee, strategic advisory board, and coordinated input from certain groups.

Why was it hard (to get started with HathiTrust)? A BigHardAudaciousGoal was needed. Someone had to go first. Trust was needed, and cultivated. Community needed to be formed. It felt unnatural.

A clip was played of Brad Wheeler talking about HathiTrust.

Learning how to lead and how to follow is one of the great lessons from HathiTrust. – Brad Wheeler, Indiana University VP for IT, and CIO

Challenges – community building, trust, transparency, leverage, new collaboration math, and follow through. Examples of BHAGs were presented here from Amazon, Google, Ford, and JFK.

Key ingredients: when to lead? when to follow? Michigan was the lead on this, from Indiana’s perspective. Let’s roll with it.

HathiTrust NOW

  • 25 partners – here is the current list
  • successful ingest and millions of volumes online
  • mirroring and backup
  • rich access
  • collection builder – much like building a set of links in

HathiTrust future

  • data API and other strategies for increased openness
  • internet archive/OCA ingest followed by misc. non-Google ingest
  • full text search over entire repository
  • extending out services through Shibboleth
  • creating research campus

HathiTrust growth trajectory – impressive growth projected

Collaboration – shared problems. Begin sharing actual development.

Building universal collections. What is a collection?

HathiTrust and the cloud – Shared print repository or repositories with all the best attributes (service, treatment, management)

Shared problems – how to define our requirements for satisfaction with each? what would the business model be? how would we build our local collections …?

Shared infrastructure – more refined bibliographic identification. Relationship of digital to partner print holdings.

HathiTrust case studies – case study library at NYU Library. ReCap storage facility in Princeton, NJ. HathiTrust digital repository. CLIR as broker and OCLC Research as agent.


Contact info on the speaker

@mcdonald on twitter:

Useful links

HathiTrust Governnance

Making Progress: Measurement, Collaboration and Communication at EDUCAUSE 2009, Denver

Presenters: Rebecca King and Pattie Orr of Baylor University

Location: EDUCAUSE 2009 Conference, Denver, CO

Resource: EDUCAUSE Page for this talk

Here are my notes on this talk.

Yesterday Jim Collins pointed out that there are different levels of change. At Baylor, the need to attain SACS reaccreditation has been one recent driver for change.

Measurement – we don’t always like the idea of measuring or assessing what we’re doing. Why care? We need to make good decisions about how to allocate limited resources. Also need to achieve the university’s mission and goals. And: build trust, understand community needs, and correct problem areas.

Measurement efforts – these include a customer feedback form, after Help ticket resolution, after training classes, in self-service help, the annual ECAR study of students & IT, the EDUCAUSE Core Data survey, annual departmental assessments, and a MISO (Merged Information Services Organization) survey.

ECAR Student Survey – Baylor students are more likely to text message and use social networking technologies than students at other universities. 70% of Baylor students have a smart phone or plan to get one soon.

On the importance of making data driven decisions: “Data is only helpful if you use it.” A number of IT functions do the surveys but never use the data.

MISO (Merged Information Services Organizations) Survey – get a benchmark for the satisfaction level with current tools and applications available to students. Baylor found that overall, students really appreciated the IT services. Students appreciated the outage notifications. High marks for BearWeb (Baylor’s banner self service app) and Baylor’s implementation of the Blackboard system. But students felt less informed about issues of information security and privacy, reported less satisfaction with the level of Mac support. Concerning how they learn, students were open to experimenting more than was expected.

MISO Survey – IT actions. For staff/faculty desktop computers, Baylor switched from 5 year replacement cycle to 3-4 year cycle. Improved Mac support through training Help Deskers. Improved the reliability of wireless access. Students “hated” the help desk phone recording because it was too long: Baylor shortened it. Baylor created a BearAware alert that’s to be used only in emergency situations where students must read it.

Commitment to collaboration – see the forest for the trees. Build community. Emphasize professional development. Show a commitment to sharing. Political reasons for doing this: you need to be seen as a team player on campus. And do what is best for whole organization.

Some Collaboration Experiences – Library/IT advisory council. Academic technology directors. Administrative department IT liaisons. Security working group. Libraries student advisory group. Information systems ITS/client teams.

Communication, Baylor IT Communication – They emphasize openness and transparency. Created a director of communications and marketing position. This position works on branding, but also on news releases.

Baylor has 230 IT and library staff alltogether. Pattie sends an electronic newsletter to the staff each term. A monthly electronic newsletter goes to division. Quarterly e-newsletter to campus. They also use a blog to facilitate some of their communications work.

Outage notification process – the need is approved by IT AVP or manager. An outage request form is completed. Pending outage notification gets sent. An official outage notification is sent out. Use of a DOWN phone line which needs to be kept updated for both planned and unplanned outages. Baylor also added a twitter account to communicate status information on services.

It’s about more than information overload – develop certain messages for certain audiences. Focus on correct timing, on building trust, and on demonstrating competence and credibility. IT is a huge budget item so we need to “tell our story” and let them know we use the results of the measurement and collaboration we conduct with them.

Jim Collins “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” at EDUCAUSE 2009, Denver

About this post – Jim Collins delivered an outstanding talk at the EDUCAUSE 2009 Conference in Denver, CO this morning. Here’s my humble attempt to represent some of his key ideas. If a something is in quotes, it is a direct quote from Mr Collins’ talk today.

Location: Denver, CO

Event: EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2009

Talk: Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Speaker: Jim Collins

CIOs and information professionals are in a perfect place to identify when organizations might be falling.

To be a truly great nation, a society cannot just have a great business sector. We need great governments, police, and educational institutions. Collins uses a “deeply empirical” approach to study “the contrasts” – what makes companies go from average to great? “Why did one make that lead and the others not make that leap?” A question: Why do some public schools in poor minority/Latino communities outperform others?

“6,695 years of data” – that’s how much cumulative data Collins and his team have collected when the total number of companies plus their years of operation are taken into account.

The Five Stages of Decline: It’s not about your circumstances

If circumstances are held constant, and some companies become great while others stay average, it can’t be due to circumstances. “Greatness is a function first and foremost of conscious choice and discipline”.

Decline is largely self-inflicted. Ascent is largely self-created.

The critical question is not the difference between “business and social” but the difference between “great and good”.

“A culture of discipline” – Examples include Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and Lance Armstrong’s cycling team. These are far from mediocrity.

How do the mighty fall?

Five Stages of Decline.

Stage 1 of decline – “the hubris borne of success”.

Leadership is the “great plug variable”. We don’t understand it. So we treat it the same way we treat a poorly understood factor in a mathematical formula. Collins is, in his words, a “leadership skeptic.” The type of leadership is what matters. Consider level 5 leaders and level 4 leaders. Jim and his team found that many of the level 5 leaders were “socially adept introverts.” Signature quality: humility. What made Level Five leaders so effective was this humility combined with an utterly stoic will to do what’s right for the institution.

“What is the difference between a great CIO and a good one?” Great CIOs are effective leaders who happen to have an IT background. A true level 5 CIO would find a way to anticipate and build what the institution needs before it knows it needs it.

Jim jokes “when the going gets weird, the weird become CEO.” He offers the example of Herb Kelleher showing up on front page of a news magazine dressed in a white Elvis suit. Some of these exceptional leaders can use weird approaches to get the results the company or institution needs.

Key point: Concentrated executive power makes leadership in a business different from other environments. The power map in a university is very diffuse.

Two types of level five leadership. The type found in business environments where power is concentrated. The more common pattern in social sectors – legislative level 5. Leadership in social sectors is much more difficult. “The exercise of power Is not leading.” True leadership: when people follow but have the freedom to not follow. (The entire room got completely quiet here as if everyone was reflecting deeply.)

“The great ones fall by overreaching.” Too much adventure is a problem. How would you know if you’re overreaching. What is the signature of level 2 decline. Packard’s law (David Packard) is mentioned by Jim.

Great leaders: they got the right people in place who were self motivated. They did not spend a lot of time motivating people. Think about those who put a glossy glow and things. They lose credibility. We must confront reality. Leaders must confront reality.

The Stockdale paradox. Named after Admiral Jim Stockdale. Stockdale was in a prison camp in Vietnam for years. He never got depressed. He decided he would use it as a transforming event. But he didn’t describe himself as an optimist. Optimists were always the ones who said “we’ll be out by Christmas.” Stockdale said the optimists died of a broken heart. Effective leaders have “an utterly stoic ability to confront the brutal facts” If we say it’ll all be better by Christmas, we may die of a broken heart. And may lose the faith to prevail.

“Stage 4 – grasping for salvation” – Question is, how do you respond (at this stage)? Do you respond by getting back to disciplined ways of operating that build momentum upward again? It takes years to recover.

Jim presented 3 circles from Good to Great. They are: “Passionate about”, “Can be best in the world” and “Economic denominator”.

In the social sector, money is a means to success but not the definition of success. The output is not about money but about (in higher ed) the students served. “Disciplined action isn’t about what we do. “ How many of you have a to do list? How many have a stop doing list? You need a stop doing list. It’s about what you stop doing.

“An enduring passionately held set of vales”. In the university, freedom of inquiry is a value. Tenure is a practice.

Both parties in recent presidential election had the mantra of change. But the word change is weak and ambiguous. Those who are disciplined enough to be consistent are the best levers for change. Teach for America is an example. Does the leader of Teach for America (Wendy Kopp) change her approach from year to year? No. The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change but “chronic inconsistency”. Chronic inconsistency leads to mediocrity and failed leadership.

Blend a set of values …. To create a (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) BHAG

Jim presents a story about the great rock climber who is a friend of Jim’s. After cutting off his index finger in an accident at home, he was laying in the hospital bed and, before long, started planning his next great climbs. He would have the strongest pinky finger in the world. He accomplished some major feats after that accident.

In the audience Q&A portion of the talk, one attendee asked Jim, what keeps you motivated? Jim said “I am afflicted with the disease of curiosity.”

Another attendee asked a question about the makeup of the bus. How to get not just the right people on the bus but also get the wrong people off the bus. Jim responded that those of us who are socially adept introverts don’t really like emotional confrontation. Great leaders they studied spent about 50% of their time on the “who” issues. Maybe create a culture where those who don’t belong in your organization decide to leave on their own. Level five leaders are rigorous but not ruthless in the way they treat people. Remember: if they are the wrong person for the seat, and you don’t want to confront it, you are essentially stealing their life. Might be a “seat issue” or a “bus issue”. Key seats. The right people will fit with your core values a priori. Right people don’t need to be managed or motivated – they are self motivated. Right people understand they don’t have a job – they have responsibilities. Right people – maturity to credit things outside themselves but then also take responsibilitiy when things go bad. Right people come to work with tremendous passion for what the institution does.

One attendee asked about leading from middle management. How to do it when you’re not in charge of the big picture? Over 90% of the good to great CEOs came from inside the company. Over 2/3 of comparison companies that failed to make the leap used the “savior from outside” approach. The good to great leaders often came from “less glitzy” activities – operations, acccounting, legal. They were often shy, not charismatic. “I am going to turn this into a pocket of greatness.” The pocket grows. Could the IT function in higher ed become a pocket of greatness?

1. Do your diagnostics. Download a Good to Great diagnostic tool to assess team Socratically.

2. Disciplined people – how many seats do we have on our mini bus? What are you plans for getting to 100%?

3. Build a personal board of directors made up of people you admire for their character.

4. Get young people in your face. This new generation is very unique: we may be cultivating a level 5 generation right now.

5. Turn off your electronic gadgets. Put white space on your calendar. You cannot engage in disciplined though if your cell phone is going off and if you’re checking your email. Do this glorious thing called thinking.

6. What is your questions-to-statements ratio, and can you double it in the next year?

7. Start your “stop-doing list”. What we decide to not do is the critical question.

8. Ask everyone on your team to answer: I am the one person ultimately responsible for X, Y and Z.

9. Sustaining excellence – discover your waterline risks and take them away. Risks below the water line – where are they? Take them away.

10. Set a big hairy audacious goal, a BHAG. Keeps us young. Keeps us moving.


Greatness is not a function of circumstance but of choice and discipline. We are not imprisoned by our environment, our endowment, the economy, our setbacks, our mistakes, the cards we are dealt, or by staggering defeats along the way. It is about our choices. Many of you are in roles where most people will never see much of what you do. Jim tells a story about why this one sculptor made the backs of the statues as beautiful as the fronts of his statues. He acknowledged that no one will see them – but the Gods will see them. Much of the work you do will never be seen by others but, to paraphrase Jim, you do it with excellence anyway.

In closing, don’t worry about your survival. Don’t’ worry about your success. Don’t worry about your careers. Put your time into this: how to be useful.

Many thanks to Jim Collins for an inspirational talk.

Note: Jim has excerpts from his monograph, “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” on his website.

Brad Wheeler / EDUCAUSE 2009 / Collaboration is Strategy

Brad Wheeler delivered a talk, “Collaboration is strategy” at the EDUCAUSE Annual 2009 conference this morning in Denver. Here are my notes.

First, to pull from Michael E. Porter’s work on strategy.

1. Operational effectiveness is not strategy.

2. Strategy rests on unique activities.

3. Inter-relatedness of activities can be inimitable.

4. Trade-offs are essential.

Activities. “the essence of strategy is choosing to perform activities differently than rivals do.” Porter, HBR, p. 64. Think about Southwest Airlines.

Corporate strategy: we think of it as a zero-sum game. But when Cornell graduates more people or brings in a grant from a wealth donor, that doesn’t hurt Indiana University. In higher ed, when we think about competitive advantage, it’s a different world.

Brad says, “essence of collaboration as strategy is choosing to perform activities similarly to partners …. and driving down costs via leverage.”

What is collaboration? “An unnatural act.” “EDUCAUSE members are prolific writers regarding collaboration.” Collaboration is not cooperator. It means to “co-labor.” We can look at collaboration at an individual level, departmental level, school level, campus level and institutional level. Brad suggests the value and the challenge of collaboration could increase exponentially as we move from individual level across the domains up to the institutional level. But experience yields improvement. So we can bring the degree of challenge down through gaining experience, while acquiring high value.

Brad offers the example of the HathiTrust collaboration, and how participants are forced to define their institutional goals.

“The New Normal.” State appropriations for higher ed are not likely to come back to their previous levels. Why collaborate? We have to. We achieve more, serve our mission,achieve favorable econoimcs over time, and align institution to external environment.

Sakai example: it results in knowledge creation, and more staff engaged in activities relevant to Indiana University’s core mission. Brad estimates 18 million of expense avoided through Indiana University’s participation in Sakai project.

Leverage – and collaboration math. We hit process losses when collaborating. 2 + 2 = 3. or 2 + 2 + 2 +2 = 5. But what we all collectively get back is often better than what we could achieve on our own. Brad quotes Patrick Burns of Colorado State University, “We are MUCH stronger together than apart, and we have observed the expertise of the group steadily spiral upward as a result.” Brad says the case of CSU is an amazing story because they were last in first out (LIFO) and were not founders on the collaborative project they participated in.

Brad quotes Charles M. Vest of MIT. Read the excellent EDUCAUSE article by Vest, from the May/June 2006 issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly.

Examples of meta-university collaborations include: Hathi Trust (library books), Public Knowledge Trust (journals), Connections (text books), Sakai (learning), and kuali (administrative). Brad believes we are “starting to build the platform for the meta-university.” It will enable, not replace, the campuses.

Higher ed ecosystem. Academic and commercial. Kuali commercial affiliates include Sun Microsystems, IBM, Huron Consulting Group, Exeter, Rimini Street, rSmart, Syntel, Vivantech, sciQuest, and Innovativ Consulting. Commercial affiliates have same power at the table (i.e., voting) as academic partners in Kuali.

Brad quotes Kevin Morooney of Penn State University on the need to have a strategy for when we should compete and when to collaborate.

Collaboration essentials. You need goal alignment. There is a dating process with new collaboration partners. You need values alignment. For example, in the earliest days of Sakai, we had no Plan B. We were not hedging out bets — we decided Sakai must succeed. You need temporal alignment. Be careful if partners are not in alignment with their institutional clocks and need for results to come with some urgency. You need talent alignment. You need governance clarity (input/decision rights). This is critical. You need to codify how you’ll handle disagreements when you hit those conflicts in the future.

there are many ways to collaborate. You may have just one programmer who can contribute time on the project. Design, code, test, etc.

“Collaborative capability can’t be bought.” It “must be grown via experience”. Developing trust comes through experience working with each other.

Collaborative IT agenda going forward. EDUCAUSE motto is “uncommon thinking for the common good.” Priority number one is to get federated identity done, now. Get in InCommon now. If you are not a member, go home and figure out how to join. Brad says “We have to get this one done.” Number two, do not talk about “clouds.” We need to be more explicit. Talk about it as “above campus services.” Examples include commercial sourcing. Give student email to Google or Microsoft. Institutional sourcing is another example. Just as an example, maybe an institution such as Carnegie Mellon would like to run an email factory for those institutions that don’t want to send email to a commercial vendor. Consortium sourcing is another example. See Brad’s article on “Above Campus Services” (in EDUCAUSE Quarterly?).

Brad quotes Herman B Wells, from his memoir Being Lucky. Eliminating duplication of effort is essential.

Useful links

Kuali Foundation

Sakai Project

Hathi Trust


Campus diversity initiative needs a fresh approach

Recently (as mentioned in my previous post) I attended the Race, Diversity and Campus Climate conference at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. This was an important conference. Not a fun topic but very, very important. I was discouraged to see how deeply racism and prejudice have taken root in our society including our educational institutions. There is nothing particularly unusual about the University of Illinois campus climate concerning race and diversity — I think we are, presently, an average public midwestern university. However we have the potential to become great. The only way to become great in this respect is to develop a fresh, innovative approach.

We need to focus less on trying to persuade people with the ethical argument that creating an inclusive environment is “the right/moral  thing to do”. We (those who already believe diversity/inclusivity is a very good thing) aren’t very good at using this; unfortunately we often we resort to guilt tripping and attacking people who aren’t quickly sold on the idea that an inclusive, diverse environment is desirable and basically beneficial to everyone.

Instead we need to focus on the strategies of social entrepreneurs. To get people to engage in the diversity/inclusivity initiative, we need to sell them on the opportunities it creates. We also need to form a grander vision of what inclusivity and diversity means in the larger context of the human race on earth. What we do in individual communities and college campuses affects the whole. The seeds planted here (on this campus or any other campus) propogate throughout society. Plant the right seeds and society benefits as a whole.