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Coping With the “New Normal”

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Maturing your teams in a distributed, virtual environment to mitigate coronavirus disruption

Key points

  • Organizations will increasingly create distributed, virtual teams to mitigate possible disruptions due to the coronavirus epidemic
  • Distributed, virtual teams can be high performing, but there are some additional challenges that often need to be solved for

What’s changed

As if the world wasn’t already complex enough, the coronavirus epidemic has become a challenge for organizations today and yet, we are at the beginning stages and do not yet know its trajectory or full impact. How long will this last? What will the path to “normal” look like? Will there be a “new normal”? In a recent article titled “Workplaces Begin Coping With Coronavirus”, The New York Times reports on how business leaders around the world are preparing to deal with this.

We are starting to see this with our clients. During a recent visit to one of our newest enterprise customers, the CIO said ‘The ability of this Continuous Improvement program to help me engage my distributed teams and accelerate maturity virtually is very significant to me at this time.’ She went on to explain that they have many teams in India that they need to engage closer with and that even the teams here in the US were going to be limiting their travel.

The many concerns that people have – as individuals and family members, as business leaders, as community and governmental leaders – are creating a new use case for virtual teams: creating virtual teams from teams that have been previously co-located in order minimize some of the direct and indirect business impacts of the virus and respect the needs of our colleagues and the community.

As leaders in our organizations, what steps can we take to ensure the best outcomes in the context of our increasingly distributed, virtual workforce?

Challenges with distributed or virtual teams

In his recent post “Distributed Teams: How To Mitigate A Significant Business Risk Of The Coronavirus“, JJ Sutherland gives a thorough description of many of the benefits of distributed teams. As Sutherland mentions, distributed teams can be as effective as co-located teams, it is just more difficult and requires great discipline.

How to help teams and organizations improve their maturity and performance

  • Be data-driven – by combining subjective information from team members and quantitative performance information, you can see a holistic picture of their state of health and can make intentional decisions about which areas to focus on that will be most impactful
  • Ensure people’s voices are heard – create and reinforce alignment by communicating desired strategic outcomes through your organization and providing feedback on what people and teams are learning at every level
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement – there are no silver bullets. Improvement takes unwavering focus and collecting small wins that – like compound interest – can have a significant cumulative effect over time
  • Assess maturity and performance at all levels – team, team of teams and org levels
  • Build actionable improvement plans – at every level, engaging leaders in removing obstacles

Learn how AgilityHealth helps organizations align on “What Great Looks Like” in terms of Agile & Lean practices, assess their current capabilities, structure focused improvement plans, and ultimately deliver more value and innovation to their customers and stakeholders.

by Natalie Solomon, Continuous Improvement Strategist, AgilityHealth
Jason Molesworth, Enterprise Business Agility Strategist, AgilityHealth
Samar Elatta Sokolski, Business Agility Strategist, AgilityHealth
Bob Small, Agile Coach, AgilityHealth


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