Sep 10, 2009

The More Things Change ...

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I'm writing this in Paris.  

(Okay, you are right, I should not be working.) But an experience today made me want to post here: Two elderly ladies sat down next to me on a park bench in the garden behind Notre Dame, and one remarked that she had seen on television the night before a story about a center for curing children of "Internet intoxication."

What is wrong with kids today? she said (I'm paraphrasing, and in English, obviously).

Her companion was more thoughtful. Don't you think they use the Internet because they don't have the things we had as children? she asked gently, and went on to list those things: the outdoors, safety in the streets, intact families, towns or neighborhoods where everyone knew each other.

I didn't want to butt in so I didn't say she was right; but that the Internet can also provide community - an adjunct to community, anyway - if it is properly used. My experiences interacting with my children and friends on Facebook provide one example. In one stroke today I said hello to everyone and told them a little about my trip: what a luxury! and how welcome to those at home.

Not that I approve of children sitting in front of the computer 10 hours a day, of course. But for adults at work, who are going to be in front of a computer 8 hours a day anyway, the social media can add a dimension of closeness and camaraderie that are often missing from offices and companies today. For project managers, an online "community of practice" can be a virtual "PMI Chapter" of learning and advancement. The problem is, few companies utilize these advantages.

In our July Insights newsletter, I listed several links about the pros and cons of telecommuting. One of them - focusing on the cons - was from the CEO of a small company who fretted about Instant Messaging replacing the water cooler. Personally, I think Facebook makes a great water cooler. And my fret is that managers use the difference of connecting virtually with distributed teams as an automatic excuse for failing at it.

The French have a saying: The more things change, the more they remain the same. Every innovation in management or technology has been resisted at first. Virtual teaming and all its tools is just the latest opportunity/problem. Isn't it time we made excellence in dealing with others virtually one of the pillars of managing projects?

Just curious: how many people reading this ONLY work with people who are co-located with them?


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    1 Comment on The More Things Change ...

    Dan Lorenc says:

    co-located? not since 1974..mmm…I was still at the university then..once I got out, I have NEVER worked exclusively with co-located staff…

    It is all about the people, yanno…mm?

    Posted on September 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm

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