Virtual Teams – Conflict Resolution, Risk Assessment

Posted on January 20, 2011 by


rock climbing

Just a little bit of risk that needs to management

Step Two of Resolving Virtual Team Conflict is to treat it as a potential risk.  The advantage of looking at team conflict as a risk is it’s an easier to say “hey let’s treat team conflict as a risk element, something that might happen” rather than “gee, we’re conflicted and at each others throat, upper management help!”

The following table is taken from a real life project at a company in 2001.  As with other projects at this start-up, the project was ripe for conflict and full of risks.  While the technology as leap frogged ahead in 10 years, the issues with virtual teams remain.

The purpose of this project was to deliver an innovative solution to a large software company.  It required an “all hands to one side of ship” approach using brute force to complete.

Unique was that resources were distributed across three locations, Silicon Valley, Shanghai and a Midwest Operations Center.

Conflict was included as a potential risk element and mitigated through structured, consistent communication (via conference call, Internet chat, web conferencing and shared document store).  This approach helped achieve an ambitious and high risk, release to market.

See Table 1.

Table 1.  Risk assessment with conflict element

# Short Name Risk Description Probability of Loss Size of Loss (Days) Risk Exposure
1 Ambitious schedule Project schedule crafted in proposal stage has a firm RTM date but was not balanced to existing resources. 75% 15 11.25 days
2 Coordination and conflict among disparate locations Recurring risk across all company projects.  Real possibility of location and functional group conflict.  Other projects have experienced delays across time zones in terms of communication and code delivery. 75% 20 15 days