Many projects require more than a single team to perform the technical work. And even single-team projects are embedded in a larger organization that provides a variety of vital functions such as marketing, human resources, product management, and more. For these reasons, relationships beyond the team are important for a successful project.
Organizations that are distributed around the world or even around a single country provide significant challenged for collaboration, coordination, and communication. It is often very difficult to work together when cultural differences lead to significant misperceptions and misunderstandings. Informal, communication-based coordination mechanisms that are so important and effective for co-located groups are seriously degraded or break down altogether at distances. Without the opportunity to observe each other in action, vital knowledge about who knows what, who has which skill, and who is responsible for what is unavailable, leading to fumbling and inefficiency. How can a manager identify the particular issues a project is facing and determine the best way to address them? In this section, we will seek an understanding of some of the key coordination mechanisms in distributed organizations and how to adapt them.
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