“Many programs talk about collaboration. Prelude actually teaches people how to collaborate. That’s the true beauty of the product.”
R. C., MBA, PMP, Scrum Master
Practically every sector now utilizes virtual teams. Many sectors, in isolation, have developed their own best practices for enhanced virtual teaming and leadership. Our original research has identified 20 emerging best practices, drawn from several fields and academic studies. These practices share common themes and approaches about engaging and connecting the whole person and team emotionally at the very start of a project. The goal is to ‘break the ice’ and provide the equivalent of ‘water cooler moments”. The Prelude Suite™ incorporates these 20 best practices within one elegant solution designed to accelerate rapport and trust at the very start of a project.
- Prior to the main project, offer non-project related online activity
- Engage entire team in online activity
Prelude is an online interactive game for virtual teams played prior to a new project. The entire team is guided through a series of five short activities, synchronous and asynchronous. This helps naturally accelerate team rapport and trust.
- Use multiplayer games – breaking teams into sub-teams
Prelude is a multiplayer game involving individual, sub team, and whole group activities.
- Teams need to develop a shared language
- Find or create common symbols and rituals to co – create a new culture
- Use visuals in communications
- Practice art of storytelling
Prelude helps virtual teams draw together, literally and metaphorically. This involves players using visual communication and storytelling. The digital symbols they generate – iStars, iTags, weTags, and allTags – become powerful markers of identity and cohesion. This contributes to developing a positive team mental model.
“All teams share mental models and norms generally tacit and unexpressed. Because virtual teams lack clues found in traditional live face-to-face experience, new types of clues need to be provided. Indeed, virtual teams have an “especially urgent need for visible, explicit, shared models to give meaning to the online world” (Jessica Lipnack & Jeffrey Stamps / NetAge 2008).
- Encourage personal relations
- pro-actively build interpersonal connections
- Enable staff to learn about each other
- Help build empathy
Prelude is a simple, powerful, cost effective way to pro-actively build interpersonal relations, learn about each other, encourage personal connections, and develop empathy.
- Introduce distributed leadership
Distributed leadership is defined as something shared by all team members, “not simply from the appointed leader” (Pearce and Sims, 2001). Prelude provides a safe way for all virtual teammates to participate as equals. A key guideline is that ‘all hands’ are involved and that consensus is needed for the game to progress at each stage. Every teammate ‘owns’ the process. This is a very good exercise in distributed leadership.
- Make the invisible visible to team itself
- Allow each person to comment on / contribute to every facet of overall task
Prelude helps virtual team members to become more aware of and articulate about each other as whole human beings with a diverse range of thinking styles, skills, talents, and experience. This sensitizes the team as a whole to its collective strengths. The entire process allows every person to participate and contribute to the overall game result. These are shared online in virtual team galleries. In doing so, Prelude helps make the invisible visible for virtual team members.
- Establish synchronous / asynchronous rhythms
- Provide Intranet site with social-networking features
Prelude involves both synchronous and asynchronous player activities. Playprelude.com offers a safe game portal with range of social networking features to ensure a positive team learning experience.
- Leverage “swift trust” (expertise-based)
- Showcase team member expertise/competence
- Co-create knowledge for collective repository and team memory
- Feature annotated and author identified documents and drawings
All sports teams and orchestras practice and tune up prior to the main event, be it soccer or symphony. However, the research literature shows virtual teams are not usually afforded this opportunity. Virtual strangers are simply expected to become high performing teams cold. Prelude provides a simple, safe, and positive way for team members to learn about each other’s character and expertise. Each virtual team has its own private game space and galleries for sharing. Post game this online space continues to be a rich area for virtual team identity, memory, learning, and online game co-created artifacts.