Friday, August 27, 2004

Finally, a real best of the week/couple weeks!

I hope the wait was worth it. Here is a super-duper version of best of the week with the most interesting articles and resources I've found recently.


"Perplexing Problem? Borrow Some Brains." This excellent article from Harvard Business School discusses a new study showing that "the approaches and outcomes of cooperating groups are not just better than those of the average group member, but are better than even the group’s best problem solver functioning alone." That has important implications for leaders, the article says, who might try to solve problems without input from others. You might be tempted to say "duh" to the article's premise, but an in-depth look by the author sheds a lot more light.

"How to Manage Smart People." This essay from a technical project manager, software designer, and usability consultant makes a lot of great points, demonstrating that sometimes the best management theories come not from the academics but from the people down in the trenches, managing and being managed. (The author's favorite question for those he manages: “What do you need from me in order to kick ass on this project?”) The article is long, but stay with it and you won't be sorry. (Via the Fast Company blog.)

Working remotely

"Virtually There?" Managing Information Strategies, a global publication for senior IT professionals, says frankly that virtual teams usually fail. Employing as a resource Dr. John Gundry, a virtual teams consultant who has been in the arena since the early 1990s, the article offers assumptions, approaches, and resources, saying there is a growing body of research and knowledge on the topic. (Via Kolabora)

"Daddy's Home, With Kids." The Telework Times links to and analyzes an article from the Associated Press about fathers, telework, and the changes in culture this might necessitate. I wrote about father-friendly work policies (leave, flex-time, parent training) and culture change in July's T+D. Go to our July Webpage and scroll down to the Intelligence column, titled "Father-Friendly." The article is free, but you'll need to register to read it if you're not an ASTD member.

Meeting/collaboration tools (traditional and technological)

Meeting Tomorrow. The Fast Company Weblog offers a link and review of a new service that provides any materials you might need for a meeting, enables you to order online or by phone, guarantees delivery in time for your meeting, and makes it easy to return the materials when you're done. I don't usually profile any type of commercial services here but this looks like it could be a helpful resource.

"Collaboration Software Clients: Email, IM, Presence, RSS & Collaborative Workspaces Should Be Integrated for Business Communication." Michael Sampson, an analyst with Shared Spaces Research and Consulting, offers this whitepaper that examines various types of collaboration tools and their strengths and weaknesses. (Don't miss the great grid of shared capabilities on page 24.) Sampson proposes that tools should be integrated into one "super-client." A part II of this paper, “Architecture and Key Capabilities of the Super-Client," will be published in September. Look for notification on Sampson's Weblog.


"Tricks of the Trade." A fun piece from The Morning News giving away various industry secrets, such as desktop support technicians (IT folks), who use the acronym PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair) on reports when the problem is the user. Some of these seem tongue-in-cheek but a lot are legit, I think. (This editor has heard the one for proofreaders--read upside down to keep your brain from skipping over words--before, so she can attest to its accuracy.)

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