Virtual Teams – Media Richness

Posted on January 31, 2011 by

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Pelennor Fields

"Arise Riders of Rohan, Browsers Shall be Opened, Editors Shall be Splintered, A red day, A sword day, ere the work day rises"

Various technologies have various levels of media richness.

Media richness means communication media have varying capacities for resolving ambiguity, negotiating varying interpretations, and facilitating understanding. Media is said to be very rich when it provides:

  • the availability of instant feedback;
  • the capacity of the medium to transmit multiple cues such as body language, voice tone, and inflection;
  • the use of natural language; and
  • the personal focus of the medium.

Face-to-face communication is the richest communication medium in the hierarchy followed by telephone, electronic mail, letter, note, memo, special report, and finally, flier and bulletin. Effective managers make rational choices matching a particular communication medium to a specific task or objective and to the degree of richness required by that task

Executing and monitoring project progress with a virtual team is a bit like acting to a green screen.

Here’s a fun exercise.  Google or search on YouTube a favorite movie scene.

  1. Find the script and read it to yourself.
  2. Then play it but do not look at it (just listen to it)
  3. Then finally play it and watch it.

Now how much more information did you gain each time?

Your answer will help you better understand the challenges your virtual teams have with conference calls only.  Try adding in a webinar (Sametime, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Microsoft Live Meeting, etc) and show some visuals.  It will help!