Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Virtual Leadership, by Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D.

Virtual Leadership: Secrets From the Round Table for the Multi-Site Manager, by Jaclyn Kostner, Ph.D.

I don’t quite know what to think of this book. There were some good lessons about leading graphically disperse teams, but the story framed around the lessons is pretty silly. A man finds a magic coin that lets him discuss the challenges of long-distance management with King Arthur. That’s right, King Arthur. While a fictional story chosen to illustrate principles can work, this one was so silly it was hard to take seriously. The idea is that the Knights of the Round Table were scattered all over England yet King Arthur forged them into a group that was so effective their legend is still talked about today—clearly Arthur knows a thing or two about virtual management.

Ridiculous story aside, there are some good points in here. One of the main reasons I think agile development is so effective is because it places a high value on collaboration. While agile can work in a distributed environment, it is certainly more difficult. I’ve run teams that were scattered across several cities, and it isn’t much fun. What seems to naturally happen is that the various localized groups form cliques, and the cliques tend to resent each other. Okay, resent may be a strong word, but phrases like those guys said... and Houston wants to know... start to creep into the common vernacular. The limited interaction and limited knowledge of the individual groups naturally causes a dearth of trust. Trust, clear communication, and focus are essential; this book illustrates some good ideas for turning a splintered organization into an effective one.

First Sentence:
“No one’s ever going to believe me,” Jim Smith thought to himself.

1 comment:

Cote' said...

Dude, that coin premise is crazy...

I always liked the org patterns writing for this kind of stuff. It used to be free online, but now I can only find it in
book form
.

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