Faith Legendre and John Maniscalco of Cisco's WebEx group joined myMBA class last night to talk about virtual collaboration. Many thanks to them for showing us what collaboration can look like through the live demonstration/conversation. The evening was dynamic both in terms of the interaction and in how they tag-teamed on the material and used the big screen to add notes to their slides as we went along. Systems savvy in a fluid, graceful mode. Systems savvy is when you are able to see the opportunities and challenges in the technical, organizational, and human settings -- and then to weave them together in a powerful way. Some brief examples from this presentation: Technology Tools: Faith was in New York and John in Colorado. We were in one of the Leavey School of Business' executive classrooms with a Polycom system for the audio and a pair of big screens for the WebEx video. (I still need to follow up with our tech folks about why we couldn't use the back-facing Polycom camera -- instead my Mac Powerbook provided Faith and John with images of their audience.) The WebEx infrastructure is designed to support low and high bandwidth participants -- new to me was that the presenter can see via an icon when material has finished downloading on each participant's machine.Organizational Practice: Tied to the download icon mentioned above are Faith & John's understanding to pace their presentation to match the downloads... More formally, Faith, John, & I had a pre-meeting to plan our agenda and talk about the technology capabilities. We made a decision not to have each of my 24 students log in separately for a faster start-up on our end. We scheduled a connection test 30 minutes prior to the class start time as it was the first time I would use WebEx in a classroom setting. Here we intertwined the technical and organizational realities. Human context: The evening's course topic was human perception so we spent a fair amount of time talking about how to present your best self in a videoconference. Faith and John emphasized the value of practicing, especially if your next video conference is a job interview (more below). People want to feel like this is human, not technical, conversation so keep your energy high and be sure to look at the camera. (I like to get the image of the people I'm talking to as close to my camera as possible.) Their use of dynamic additions to the slide also created an added layer of interaction (org practice being intertwined with human perception). We closed on whether or not to accept an offer of a videoconference job interview. Given the economy, clear answer is to accept any job interview offer you get. Then the next step is how to use your systems savvy to present your full set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Also nice if the manager is giving all the candidates a level playing field by having all the interviews use the same modality. Random list of benefits of the video interview process:

  • Access to broader set of candidates - one of the students hired a teammate via video and still has yet to have a physical meeting with them -- the video interview was a realistic job preview for both parties
  • Ability to evaluate candidates' virtual communication/collaboration skills
  • Opportunity for the candidate to see the company's technology infrastructure. In a prior post I've mentioned how rare it is for us to get to see our true (technical) work environment.

Highlight for me was the full class engaging in a discussion of modern collaboration strategies. Looking forward to the near future of having more work be via collaboration platform, and less via email and shared files. Thanks again Faith and John. Would love to be one of your first Quadcollaborators! Other systems savvy collaboration strategies to we should be thinking about? How about interoperability across collaboration platforms (in the same way that we can all send emails to each other without using the same client)?