ULFIRE http://ulfire.com.au Virtual Team Dynamics Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:53:52 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 ULFIRE clean ULFIRE francis.norman@ulfire.com.au francis.norman@ulfire.com.au (ULFIRE) Regular advice on building and leading high performance Virtual Teams in complex project environments ULFIRE http://ulfire.com.au/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/ulfire_logo_podcast3000px.jpg http://ulfire.com.au TV-G Structural complexity and project virtual teams http://ulfire.com.au/structural-complexity-project-virtual-teams/ http://ulfire.com.au/structural-complexity-project-virtual-teams/#respond Tue, 06 Jun 2017 03:04:21 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=3880 As part of the short series looking at complexity in project virtual teams we are looking at structural complexity, how it is defined, what makes a project structurally complex and how that structural complexity contributes to or is influenced by having project virtual teams as part of the project make up.

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http://ulfire.com.au/structural-complexity-project-virtual-teams/feed/ 0 As part of the short series looking at complexity in project virtual teams we are looking at structural complexity, how it is defined, what makes a project structurally complex and how that structural complexity contributes to or is influenced by havin...
Project Complexity Factors
In the area of complex projects, which are generally considered to have some or all of the characteristics of structural complexity, social complexity or uncertainty complexity. Each of these three characteristics have a different impact and drive the complexity in a different way. The more of any of these characteristics or the more pronounced any of them the project has, the more complex it can be considered to be.

In this article, which is part of a short series on the subject, I will consider structural complexity and how virtual teams are an integral part of that area.
Structural Complexity
Structural complexity is where the project itself or the deliverable of the project has large numbers of elements, where it has large numbers of interconnections between the elements themselves within the project, large numbers of inter-related contracts or other forms of structural elements inside the project which have complex inter-relationships.

* Number of elements – The number of elements refers to the overall physical complexity of the project deliverable, so, for example, if the project is to design and deliver a new aircraft, there will be a huge number of different, highly interconnected elements in the physical deliverable (the aircraft) and a similar number of interconnected elements involved in its design and construction. On the other hand, if the project is to design and build a road the physical deliverable is a long stretch of tarmac which, while potentially complicated, does not include the complexity of interconnected elements.
* Project size – In many instances the physical size of the project may increase the structural complexity of the project. Project size can be measured in its capital cost, the physical or virtual size of the project deliverable, or one of several other dimensions. Each industry or sector will have its own metrics for such measures which makes it very hard to define in a post such as this. However, as examples, a large IT project may have a relatively modest capital budget of several millions of dollars but be considered large in its field while an infrastructure project such as a land subdivision may have a capital value of tens to hundreds of missions of dollars but be considered only complicated.
* Number of contracts – The greater the number of financial and other contracts involved in any project the greater its structural complexity. Each contract adds multiple human, physical and financial interconnections to the project and with each of those interactions comes increased complexity. So, to draw on the examples used earlier, an IT project may only have a small number of contracts covering hardware, network, software etc, while a new build aircraft will have hundreds to potentially thousands of individual contracts involved in its design and delivery

Similarly, structural complexity occurs where the project is run by or for a joint venture, partnership or alliance or where the process of the deliverable its self has a large number of interconnected variables.

* Joint ventures and alliances – Joint ventures and alliance models seem to come and go as fashions for project delivery change. Some industries such as civil infrastructure have a long and generally successful track record of delivering joint venture projects while other sectors have either tried it and decided it didn’t work for them or have yet to try. Joint ventures and alliances are where multiple enterprises join together in a commercial arrangement to deliver a project, they share the risk, share the exposure and hopefully share in the success. If organisations have not previously collaborated in one of these models there are a number of real risks to the outcomes of the project created by their need to learn things as they go,]]>
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Interview with Deb Hein of ICCPM http://ulfire.com.au/interview-with-deb-hein-of-iccpm/ http://ulfire.com.au/interview-with-deb-hein-of-iccpm/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:35:56 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=3218 This post is for a podcast interview with Deb Hein the CEO of the International Centre of Complex Project Management (ICCPM) where we discuss the current state of complexity in projects.

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http://ulfire.com.au/interview-with-deb-hein-of-iccpm/feed/ 0 This post is for a podcast interview with Deb Hein the CEO of the International Centre of Complex Project Management (ICCPM) where we discuss the current state of complexity in projects.
In the interview we discussed Deb’s background and what brought her to ICCPM, how ICCPM was formed and where its role is in the global context, how complexity is becoming better understood and where the field is going into the future.
ICCPM can be found at https://iccpm.com where you can find information on the organisation, its history, some of its major achievements and initiatives.
I have been big fan and admirer of the work of ICCPM for some time, and was fortunate enough to have an article included in their magazine a few months ago talking about leading virtual teams in complex projects.
On the ICCPM website you will also find information on its key educational offerings, including the Certificate IV in Responding to Organisational Complexity . The course, which is exclusive to ICCPM and recognised by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), provides an excellent hands on qualification that takes students through the steps of:

* Identifying and understanding complexity in their organisations
* Making decisions in complex environments
* Managing risk in complex environments and,
* Leading through complexity.

The course has been running for a little over a year at the time of writing this and the first students are starting to graduate.
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Introduction to the use of Virtual Teams in Complex Projects http://ulfire.com.au/introduction-virtual-teams-complex-projects/ http://ulfire.com.au/introduction-virtual-teams-complex-projects/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 07:47:13 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=3206 Complex projects seem to be appearing everywhere, or at least everyone seems to think they are. This is an introductory article to the role virtual teams play in complex projects, it sets out some of the challenges in differentiating between truly complex project and those that are really just large or at best complicated.
This is the first of a series of articles that will dig into more of the detail of where virtual teams contribute to the complexity of many modern projects and help to establish a better understanding of where complexity sits in the world of modern project management.

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http://ulfire.com.au/introduction-virtual-teams-complex-projects/feed/ 0 Complex projects seem to be appearing everywhere, or at least everyone seems to think they are. This is an introductory article to the role virtual teams play in complex projects, it sets out some of the challenges in differentiating between truly comp...
I hear it in home building, where someone will describe building a house a complex, I hear it in infrastructure where their projects are frequently described as complex and I hear it in the resources sector, defense, healthcare, IT and virtually everywhere else, yet in reality, genuine project complexity is relatively rare and what seems complex to a novice project manager or the casual observer is frequently seen by more seasoned projects professionals as simple or at the worst, complicated.
Then, along side those who see complexity everywhere are “complexity deniers”, those within the project management profession who believe there is no such thing as a complex project and that, in the words of a colleague of mine, they simply need to “do project management harder”.
Apparently project complexity, like beauty, really does seem to be in the eyes of the beholder…
Are complex projects really everywhere?
In recent years, as research and experience around complexity has evolved, there has been a growing recognition that many projects in the simple and complicated categories don’t become complex as they get bigger, they just grow larger while retaining many of their same characteristics of simplicity or complication. In the mean time, other projects, regardless of size, are considered complex for reasons other than their scale.
Does size really matter when judging complexity?
While it can be easy to assume that a small project is simple or at worst complicated and to similarly assume that a large project is therefore complex, this is generally not a realistic correlation. Examples of this could be that building a very long, wide road may be expensive, labor intensive and take a long time when compared to deploying an IT system to replace a paper based hospital system, but the IT project is far more likely to be considered complex than the road project. This is due to the the degree of task interactions, unpredictability and involvement of multiple disciplines, disparate stakeholders and influencers in the make up of the project.
Where do virtual teams fit in project complexity?
For many projects, a virtual team is a logical extension of their co-located predecessors. These project virtual teams largely comprise personnel with the same skill sets working on the same project tasks, more or less at the same point on the schedule as they would had they been in one place. But, hidden behind this “appearance of similarity” are the messy human and locational nuances of personalities, corporate politics, language and culture differences, time shifts due to locations on the planet and local customs and practices that all turn a “simple” project into a complicated or complex one.
Managing the integration of a virtual team into a project environment brings multiple additional challenges not traditionally seen, not in the familiar experiential environment of many project managers and alien to the participants themselves, all of which adds considerably to the risk profile of the project and compounds into a more complex project delivery environment. Simple projects become complicated, and complicated project become complex with the addition of these new human interfaces.
Over the next few articles and podcasts I will be discussing some of the ways virtual teams impact project complexity in more detail, so please do stay tuned in for upcoming articles.
Share your experiences
Have you any thoughts on complex projects and virtual teams you would like to share? If so,]]>
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Project Communications Complications http://ulfire.com.au/project-communications-complications/ http://ulfire.com.au/project-communications-complications/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:24:48 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=2557 Projects are becoming increasingly complicated, they have more stakeholders, they are bigger and they are generally getting harder to complete. Lost in all the growth and complication is the need to address the increasing communications complications, as the teams and challenges have grown so has the need to establish an understanding of their communications needs.
This article discusses some of the challenges and suggests a need for the leaders of the projects to become more inclusive and open in the tools and techniques they use and make available to their teams.

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http://ulfire.com.au/project-communications-complications/feed/ 0 Projects are becoming increasingly complicated, they have more stakeholders, they are bigger and they are generally getting harder to complete. Lost in all the growth and complication is the need to address the increasing communications complications,
Additional personnel adds communications complications
Communication becomes increasingly complex as the numbers of individuals increase. With every additional team member added, the mix of cultural, linguistic, value systems and communication skill levels within your team becomes more and more complicated, reaching virtually exponential levels of differences very quickly. This increasing variation in communications abilities, skills and barriers applies whether the team is co-located or virtual, and whether the team is in a highly heterogeneous, multi-cultural environment or a more homogeneous, single culture location. Communications complications arise through age, gender, social status, place of birth, even schools attended, each and every factor impacts the way in which personnel will communicate, what they will say and how they will say it, what they hear and how they interpret the message.
Becoming increasingly virtual adds further communications complications
Communications become even more difficult as teams move from co-location to virtual. The physical separation alone makes any communications more difficult, with added issues around the mode and form of communication along with challenges associated with time zones. As organisations move from national to international virtual teams, the communications complications continue to grow. International locations in a virtual team add potential language barriers, different organisational norms, different leadership styles and structures along with a myriad of other challenges. Virtuality begins to appear as soon as team members are spread across multiple floors in the same building, and compounds by distance, country and time zone, yet many organisations and projects assume that this separation by space and time, language and culture does not exist and insist on communicating to all of their team in the same way using the same tools and language.
Recognise the differences and plan for them
So, how do you plan for all of these variations within a project environment where, at different stages, you may well have all of the above types of communications complications occurring either sequentially or concurrently, and still find time to actually deliver the project?
The first thing is to recognise that these differences exist, that they are real and must be managed just like every other part of your business or project. You can not simply use a one size fits all approach to business and project communications anymore. Communications from management need to be tailored and interpersonal communications needs to be facilitated through the provision of and access to a range of different tools and techniques rather than a single, company mandated mechanism.
This need for diversity of approach and technique is particularly important as teams become more diverse and virtual. Generational differences alone mean that different personnel will need different tools. Cultural, time zone, linguistic and every other difference all require specific consideration in messaging and mode selection.
So, the message from this post is this,]]>
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The Power Of Thank You and Showing Gratitude http://ulfire.com.au/the-power-of-showing-gratitude/ http://ulfire.com.au/the-power-of-showing-gratitude/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 15:51:25 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=2519 Showing gratitude to your staff and colleagues through a simple, quick email reply with a thanks or a thank you can mean the difference between a grateful and engaged workforce and one that feels they are only there to serve your every need. Taking a few second to acknowledge someone's work is a quick, simple and meaningful way to help to keep your team motivated.

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http://ulfire.com.au/the-power-of-showing-gratitude/feed/ 0 Showing gratitude to your staff and colleagues through a simple, quick email reply with a thanks or a thank you can mean the difference between a grateful and engaged workforce and one that feels they are only there to serve your every need.
Of all of the notes you receive, how many of the personal pieces of correspondence do you actually acknowledge or respond to? and have you ever considered how powerful a team building and rewarding opportunity even the simplest response may be?
Responses can be a simple as hitting the “reply” button, typing “Thank you” in the body of the message then hitting send, through to a longer note indicating why you appreciate the information or contact with specifics if appropriate. To you, this action may be a 10 second excursion from your day to day tasks that has no real significance to your day, but to the person who sent you the original note and receives the subsequent thank you or similar expression of gratitude, this 10 seconds may mean the difference between their positive engagement in the delivery of the project, their ongoing commitment to your team and even their retention within the project organisation or their feeling taken for granted and being disengaged from the task at hand, after all, who wants to work in an organisation or for a boss that doesn’t care about them.
Fitting Thank You Into Your Routine
I am not suggesting that you spend your entire day responding on these tasks, but I am recommending that, as a matter of course, you aim to respond to any direct correspondence from any member of your project team with some form of gratitude and recognition. Perhaps, even, on occasion, doing a “reply all” when you are only one of the recipients, particularly if you are one of the more senior. This opportunity publicly recognises to the contribution of the sender and may also encourage some of your colleagues to start the practice. Every manager these days has a smart phone or similar device, so you could easily fit a thank you routine into your day, spending 10 free minutes during a commute or waiting in line for coffee to be grateful to your staff rather than checking Facebook or LinkedIn.
If you consider how much time an effective project manager will spend on communications and team development, taking 2 minutes from your day to respond to several of these direct pieces of correspondence is an incredibly efficient and effective way to develop your team spirit.
Share your experiences
Have you any thoughts on this post or any similar experiences you would like to share? If so, we would love to hear from you.
How can we help?
Ulfire specialises in supporting organisations planestablish and run high performing virtual teams. We combine extensive practical experience from decades of involvement in virtual teams, with current, real world, academic research into the way members of virtual teams collaborate. Please contact us to discuss ways we can help your business, or sign up using the form below to receive our regular newsletter.
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A Plan for the Future of the Australian Energy Resources Sector http://ulfire.com.au/plan-future-australian-energy-resources-sector/ http://ulfire.com.au/plan-future-australian-energy-resources-sector/#respond Sun, 26 Feb 2017 11:39:04 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=3165 National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has this last week released its sector competitiveness plan looking at the opportunities and challenges facing the Australian energy resources sector. The plan is extensive and far reaching and is well worth reading if you are involved in the sector either as an active participant or as an observer.

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The Good and Bad of International Project Teams http://ulfire.com.au/international-project-teams/ http://ulfire.com.au/international-project-teams/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:32:13 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=2501 Understanding why your project is adopting an international execution strategy is an important step in planning your project. There are a number of reasons modern project may or may not go international, they will all have a large influence on the way the project is run and its potential risk profile.
This article considers five of the major reasons that will influence the decision.

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http://ulfire.com.au/international-project-teams/feed/ 0 Understanding why your project is adopting an international execution strategy is an important step in planning your project. There are a number of reasons modern project may or may not go international, they will all have a large influence on the way ...
I have discussed a few of the most common reasons for international project delivery below, they are; access to skills, client pressures, local government pressures, cost and, globalisation of organisations. Many of these drivers overlap and while I have tried to cover them separately, there will be a substantial level of leakage from one to another.

* Access to skills – For many organisations, it is often extremely difficult to access the skills they need to perform the entire project scope in one single location. This may be driven by a shortage of skills in their home country, in the country the project is being delivered into or elsewhere in the project delivery cycle. Regardless of the location of the shortage of skills, these company’s must consequently execute some of their work away from their home base location, driving them to an international model.
* Client pressures – Where clients are from another country to the project execution organisation they may, for home country social or political reasons, or to satisfy a shareholder or stakeholder commitment, mandate that some of the project is executed in their home country. If this home country is also the country the project is being delivered into, this could have been a project necessity regardless of any client drivers. However, if the project is being delivered into a third location, the added complexity of the alternate location can cause unexpected consequences for all concerned.
* Local government pressures – many national or regional governments have mandated or advisory local content guidelines and targets for prospective projects to strive to achieve. Such targets can include the requirement to execute portions of many phases of projects in the host country. There are a number of ways in which the local content may be calculated, either on money spent, orders placed, hours executed, etc. All these criteria will drive projects to explore options and opportunities to put pieces of the project into the host country or region. These drivers can become problematic for projects when the local workforce or industry does not offer the skills or services required by the project, in which case the project must either try to support the local capabilities in developing the required skills, or devise ways of satisfying the local content requirements through other methods and execute the rest of the work in more suitably skilled and resourced regions.
* Cost – Many modern projects are costed on quite marginal figures that drive them to seek the lowest costs for both skilled labour and manufacturing. For many organisations, this involves sending portions of the project into developing nations where the cost of labour is typically lower than in the more costly developed countries. This offshoring of work can include everything from design centres, manufacturing, prototype development, software production etc. These are all activities that, in past times, would have been performed in the company’s home country but changing costs have driven the work elsewhere.
* Globalisation of organisations – Many companies are now serving global markets and opting to distribute many phases of their operations and projects into the country’s in which they operate. This serves a number of purposes for the organisations it allows them; to balance project costs across their global operations; bring different perspectives to their project cycles and; customise their project portfolio to be...]]>
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Engineering Project Skills For The Future http://ulfire.com.au/project-skills-for-the-future/ http://ulfire.com.au/project-skills-for-the-future/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 16:10:06 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=2537 Technology and costs are rapidly changing the way future projects will be approached. Those running these new projects will need new skills and techniques to be successful. It will no longer be a case of being able to simply being able to deliver technical work, team members will need to be exceptional communicators and understand how to work in increasingly complex and harder to predict environments.

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http://ulfire.com.au/project-skills-for-the-future/feed/ 0 Technology and costs are rapidly changing the way future projects will be approached. Those running these new projects will need new skills and techniques to be successful. It will no longer be a case of being able to simply being able to deliver techn...
Engineering project skills of the past

* In the 80’s, the change was the arrival of design automation tools, including equipment such as computerised design software. They led to an improvement in the speed of production of drawings (along with the equivalent ease of changing the design, which was not always as welcome). It also brought the initial development of engineering databases and associated tools. All of these new tools reduced the size of the team needed to deliver the work, one of the major contributors to a lot of people leaving the workforce at the time.
* During the ’90’s the tools continued to change and communications expanded on a world wide scale. During this decade we moved rapidly from early fax machines and slow electronic transmission of data to high speed internet traffic, email, FTP and VPN which really connected the whole globe in a robust and rapid way for the first time. This communications revolution supported the development of the first real virtual teams working to deliver project from their homes and offices across the globe. For the first time, you began to have the ability to do the same work from your home as you could from your office and it began to matter less where that home or office was located.
* The ’00’s was a decade of massive expansion, when bigger and bigger were better and better. Client companies demands and expectations were that they should be able to develop larger and more complex projects faster and cheaper than ever before. This was pursued through the leveraging of the expanding design software and virtual teams of personnel able to work on their project 24hrs a day from somewhere in the world, in many cases, theoretically at a lower cost through the use of lower cost labour.

Against all of this technological and aspirational development has been the impact of the ageing population on the available workforce. Much of the developed world experienced mass departures of highly skilled and experienced personnel from the workforce in the ’80’s and ’90’s. Many of these departing personnel were viewed as dinosaurs by their younger colleagues, they didn’t have, and often were not interested in developing, the computer skills required to work in this new age and were readily released.
However, over time, the skills these experienced personnel had, their very experience of the technical demands of their work which were so quickly discounted during the first flushes of the IT revolution, came to be missed, though largely too late to reverse.
This ageing and departed workforce were not replaced by their former employers. Those running the engineering companies largely retained the abundance mentality of previous decades, when there was always a ready and stable supply of skilled workers to fill any vacancy. This belief was shown to be flawed during the boom times of the second half of the last decade. During the boom skilled personnel were at a premium and these same employers were crying out for personnel to fill their vacant roles, accepting partially skilled alternates and paying above market rates to secure them.
So, here we are, in the second half of the 2010’s and wondering what is coming next, particularly when we keep hearing about how automation is going to lead to so many jobs disappearing or being replaced.
Where next for engineering project skills
My prediction,]]>
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Developing International Project Communicators http://ulfire.com.au/international-communicators/ http://ulfire.com.au/international-communicators/#respond Tue, 24 Jan 2017 15:27:52 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=2497 Training and developing personnel to take on the key roles of leading international interfaces in virtual team projects is an ongoing task for most businesses who operate in the space. This article considers some of the reasons the development of personnel for these roles is important.

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http://ulfire.com.au/international-communicators/feed/ 0 Training and developing personnel to take on the key roles of leading international interfaces in virtual team projects is an ongoing task for most businesses who operate in the space. This article considers some of the reasons the development of perso... Where are they developing right now? and,
How can their development be supported and facilitated so that there are enough of them available for future projects?

Firstly, as an optimist, let me say that I believe there are many people around the world right now developing their skills through working globally. Largely, they are learning by doing, with few of them learning in a structured sense. Few of them will really realise that, in performing their day-to-day tasks, they are really building a skill set they will later come to rely on heavily.
Furthermore, they are largely learning through trial and error. They will be working in global organizations where they deal daily with other offices and individuals, or they are working on international projects with individuals and teams from other cultures.
This “accidental development” is good to a point, but just imagine how much better your project would run if the errors your undeveloped project teams, including these enthusiastic learners, are now making, could be minimized. Their learning could become structured and supported, making your project teams and individuals more effective, more rapidly moving from a group of confused individuals to a genuine high performing team.
Organisations need structured international development programs
Every organization with any involvement in international projects should, in my opinion, have a structured development program to support its personnel. Helping them as they work to understand how best to communicate with their colleagues from different cultures. Many businesses have a plan to teach technical skills, many also have plans to teach the more conventional, more traditional interpersonal skills such as negotiation, technical writing, etc. But very few teach the communications skills for intercultural work.
[bctt tweet=”Organisations need structured international development programs” username=”FrancisNorman”]
Intercultural communication skills programs do not need to be hugely complex and expensive exercises. Simple short training and information sessions are sufficient for most project personnel, providing enough development for them to learn the basics of the cultural differences, enough so that they keep an open mind and, as Nancy Adler puts it in her book International Dimensions of Organisational Behaviour, “assume differences” when first dealing with other cultures.
Include advanced communications skills for core personnel
Project personnel with a deeper involvement with their global partners should also have access to more advanced and involved training, coaching and support to help them perform better when working with the project’s international cultural players. This training would include longer and more involved training modules, and should also incorporate a substantial level of coaching and mentoring, essentially providing the learner with someone to turn to for support and guidance when unfamiliar or unplanned situations arise.
What is your project doing?
Take a look around your project right now. How many of your people spend a reasonable proportion of their time communicating with your international partners?. Ask yourself, do they do it well?. When the do it, do they often express frustration with the people from different cultures they have to deal with? and, equally importantly, take a look at the other end of the communications chain,]]>
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Surviving at the Deep End on International Projects http://ulfire.com.au/surviving-international-projects/ http://ulfire.com.au/surviving-international-projects/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:37:58 +0000 http://ulfire.com.au/?p=2506 All too often organisations send personnel off on international project assignments with little to no support. They receive a visa, a plane ticket and a contract and that's about it, the organisation then trusts to luck and the employee's skill that the secondment and the project associated with it will be a success.
It really does not have to be that way though, a little bit of training, some mentoring and coaching and general support than the outcomes can be so much more predictable.
This article is for those on the receiving end of these poorly planned placements, tips to survive when thrown in at the deep end on an international project.

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http://ulfire.com.au/surviving-international-projects/feed/ 0 All too often organisations send personnel off on international project assignments with little to no support. They receive a visa, a plane ticket and a contract and that's about it, the organisation then trusts to luck and the employee's skill that th...
All of this means that those responsible for delivering the project will be dropped in at the deep end, frequently with no specific training or support and must either sink or swim, so for those of you in this situation, here are a few of my tips to help you survive your communications processes;
Assume the best of your international partners
Your international partners, those on the other and of the telephone line, email, video conference screen or at the other side of your desk if you are in the same location as they are, will generally want the same overall outcome for your project as you do; they may express themselves differently, outwardly demonstrate different levels of emotion and commitment to you but those differences are more likely cultural than motivational.
So, when you find yourself living in the same country as them, working in the same office and traveling to and from work together, it is definitely a good approach to assume the best of them, that they are there to do the same job as you and you all have the best interests of your project and company at heart.
Be patient with your partner
You may not be the only one trying to learn how to work with someone else. If your organisation has dropped you in at the deep end, to work out things by yourself, there is every chance the rest of the project is in the same situation, all trying to learn the process at the same time.
So, patience with each other is a great place to start, take the time to learn how each other work, take the time to communicate clearly and be patient when things take longer than you are used to, life moves at a different pace in different places.
Assume differences not similarities
If you assume the international members of your team, whether they are working physically along side you or remotely, will have different cultural and procedural values and approaches. you will be much less surprised when those differences become apparent. Simply assuming that because they are working on the same project as you, and may have a similar technical background, to you does not mean your international work partners will behave and react in the same way you do.
If you assume that people are different you will rarely be surprised and will find that life will flow much more comfortably.
Learn what you can about your international partners
The more you understand about your international partner’s country’s, history, language, values systems and culture the better you will understand the individual and the way those individuals behave and react in situations. However, as a word of caution, don’t simply assume that everyone from a particular culture will be the same, we are all individuals and while we share many common features with our countrymen, we all have many differences.
It is a good idea to spend some time before a deployment learning about the history of the country you are going to, if possible try to understand the culture and basic beliefs from a high, holistic level and maybe even try to become familiar with the language, but keep in mind that what you read and what you watch will come wit its own in built biases and perspectives, so judge for yourself once you arrive.
Question misunderstandings
I would recommend you develop a mutually agreed mechanism for clarifying misunderstandings, in some cultures it is acceptable or even expected to question anything you are unclear about in an open and direct manner, in others, this approach will cause great concern and offense t...]]>
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