Virtual Operations Development

Virtual Operations Development

by Mark Sivy

Most of us probably haven’t thought much about being in an era where virtual organization operations play a major role in our daily work activities and we likely haven’t received any special development assisting us in being successful with it. But it does and we should.

A Perspective on Virtual Organization Operations

Virtual organization operations have existed since individuals have communicated and coordinated efforts when being at different locations. Prior to the advent of electronics, some of the earliest methods of contact have been through the use of mirrors (heliographs), smoke signals, drums, and flags (semaphore). As we moved into the 19th Century, organizations began using electronically-mediated services including the telegraph, fax machine, and telephone. Coming into the 20th Century, virtual operations were facilitated by the advent of radio, television, and eventually the Internet. Currently the use of Internet-based communication and collaboration tools for virtual operations is increasingly being integrated into work cultures and the use of these tools has become as much an art as it is a science.

Typically, a virtual work group represents a broad pool of shared skills, knowledge and experiences that are networked via digital communication and collaboration technologies to achieve a common outcome such as an event, service or product. The technologies involved address the barriers of time and distance, enabling an organization to leverage collective innovation, creativity, and synergy.

Virtual Organization Talent Development

Virtual Organization Operations in Practice

So where does this leave us as practitioners of virtual organization operations? Well, this practice actually involves a huge range of activities from something as simple as two work colleagues in different parts of a country talking on the phone to plan a conference presentation to a corporation’s globally distributed team working together to develop a new product line. Since you’re reading this blog, I would say that it is very likely that within the past 24 hours you’ve engaged in some form of basic virtual operation whether you’ve placed an online order with Staples or Amazon for merchandise, collaborated on a work document on Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox, or used social media such as Twitter or Google+ to plan a social gathering.

So What’s the Challenge in Organization Talent Development?

With all of these common examples of how one might accomplish virtual operations with relative ease, you might be thinking this isn’t rocket science. In part that is correct. Some of the everyday tools that are used for many virtual tasks are linear or have been created for end-user simplicity. However, when it comes to mission critical, dynamic, and interactive virtual operations that involve interactions between diverse distributed team members, it becomes much more complex. Working in this type of networked environment requires specialized knowledge and skills that enable people to communicate effectively and function efficiently when separated by geographic distances.

The Challenge in a Nutshell

Body LanguageMost of us are unknowingly dependent on gaining much of our communicated information and understanding from in-person body language. In a seminal study, Mehrabian and Ferris (1967) discovered that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words stated. So depending on the form of communication, as much as 93% of face-to-face communication content could be lost in communicating with others at-a-distance. We can only partially compensate for this, but it is important that we do, otherwise serious misunderstandings, mistakes, and failure can result. This is where unified talent development comes into play.

In future posts, this development topic will be explored in more depth using the concepts of presence, emotional intelligence, transactional distance theory, and social constructivism.

Reflection Point – The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. ~ Peter F. Drucker

 

Reference

MEHRABIAN, A., & FERRIS, S. R. (1967). INFERENCE OF ATTITUDES FROM NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION IN TWO CHANNELS. Journal Of Consulting Psychology, 31(3), 248-252. doi:10.1037/h0024648

Advertisements

Online Talent Development Part 1

Online Talent Development Part 1 – Internet Trends

by Mark Sivy

The use of the Internet for purposes of communication and information has experienced rapid growth during the past two decades. The 2013 Pew Internet Use Survey results show that over 86% of all adults (18+ years of age) in the United States are connected to the Internet, whereas in 1995 it was 14%. The Miniwatts Marketing Group maintains global Internet usage statistics, which indicated in June 2012 that over 34% of the global population were connected to the Internet and that this indicated a 566% increase since 2000.

Online Learning

Internet Use

The point made by this Internet usage information is that the path is for the broad use of the Internet as an education conduit for online learning is widening. In a 2012 global Internet user survey by the Internet Society, 98% of the participants agreed that the Internet is essential for access to education and knowledge.

In the K-12 setting, there has been a rapid increase in the use of online courses and resources. There is an increasing emphasis on online and blended courses and online learning systems, such as found in the National Education Technology Plan, released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. A Project Tomorrow survey report, Learning in the 21st Century: 2011 Trends Update, found that three times as many high school students and twice as many middle school students are learning online as compared to the original 2007 report. It was also noted that in 2011, 27% of all high school students took at least on class online. In Project Tomorrow’s 2013 Trends in Online Learning Virtual, Blended and Flipped Classrooms, it is reported that 43% of US school districts offer access to online courses. In iNACOL’s 2013 Fast Facts About Online Learning states that five states – Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Virginia, and Michigan – require online learning for students in the public schools. According to the Evergreen Education Group’s 2013 Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning Report, 26 states have state-led virtual schools, 24 states have blended schools, 30 states have fully online schools, and the number of private online learning options is increasing.

Evidence indicates that the use of the Internet for education has seen the fastest growth in higher education. An August 2011 Pew Research Center survey, The Digital Revolution and Higher Education, found that 77% of colleges and 89% of four-year universities of offer online courses. Also reflecting this growth in online courses is a Sloan Consortium /Babson Survey Research Group report, Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2013, which found that over 7.1 million higher education students (33.5%) took at least one online course in the Fall 2013 term. In terms of fully online higher education institutions, the Online Education Database organization currently contains reviews of over 1847 higher education schools in the US that offer online courses.

Online learning is also playing an important role in the multi-billion dollar corporate training industry as seen in articles such as one at Forbes and another at CNBC. These articles and others indicate the robust adoption of online learning as an active component of corporate training and development efforts. An infographic at the e-Learning Industry website claims that in 2013, 77% of American corporations were using online learning. Global Industry Analysts, Inc. projects that by 2015, education and corporate e-learning will be a US$107 billion industry.

Reflection Point – “The next big killer application on the Internet is going to be education.” ~John Chambers