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Co-opetitive Virtual Teams - An Introduction Part 2 - Project Manager Challenges -

I have described in Co-opetitive Virtual Teams - An Introduction the current trend of many companies, who try to cooperate and compete globally to retain their current clients and win more businesses. At this blog, I will open the discussion of the role of the project manager who has a Co-opetitive Virtual Team. (Let's call her Mrs.PM)

Mrs. PM has different challenges than her colleague who work in a non-copetitive virtual team:
  • She needs to balance client stakeholders and a team of competitors!
  • She has to balance the sales team passion of winning more businesses to be able to keep the overall Co-opetitive strategy healthy, But she does not have enough position or coercive power over account/sales team.
  • She has to be able to manage a pool of resources, but these resources are from competing companies , so she need to balance the usage of resources and try to minimize conflict between competing teams!
  • She has to keep all team members - from all groups - motivated and she must to be able convince them that the competitor is not the enemy - try to work with each other, please!
  • She has to make sure that members of the Co-opetitive Virtual Teams communicate effectively and can get things done.
  • She should be able to handle organizational diversity in such co-opetitive virtual environment.
  • She needs to be able to manage her team, who are from different competing entities, with minimum coercive power effectively.
  • She should facilitate sharing of information between her team members, who are from competing entities. Competitors keep critical information from each other, and they also keep their weaknesses secret!
  • If she is in a premature co-opetitive virtual team, She needs to deal with high staff/team members turnover rate, which this will impact standard project constraints - Cost, Quality and Time.Therefore in one project the cycle of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing may happen several times or it may restart midway through. Obviously, such fluctuation in team development impacts the overall team performance and it is Mrs PM's job to first prevent such changes, and second creates and environment that team goes through such cycle as fast as possible, when a team member gets replaced. This is not easy or almost impossible ,as Mrs PM is an employee of one of the co-opetitive organizations ,and she does not have power/control over her resources whom they are from another co-opetitive organizations!
  • Due to fluctuation in team development, the level of conflict is much higher in Co-Opetitive Virtual Teams and it is Mrs PM's job to make sure conflicts get resolved soon. She needs to be an influential leader.
Some may argue that such project management challenges are same for a project manager who is managing projects in a multinational company - who works with different vendors in one project. Here is a simple comparison to demonstrate the different:

Co-opetitive Virtual Teams 1:
  • Company A, B, C, D, E are located in five different locations in three different time zones.
  • They all have same competencies and skillset.
  • They are after the same market.
  • They are competitors.
  • They decide to create a Co-opetitive Virtual Team to handle a large client globally.
  • Mrs PM is from company A and her resources are from company A, B, C, D and E.
  • Project Owner is from company B, and Project Sponsor is from Client
Co-opetitive Virtual Team 2:
  • Company A, B, C, D, E are located in five different locations in three different time zones.
  • They all have same competencies and skillset.
  • They are after the same market, therefore They are competitors.
  • They decide to create a Co-opetitive Virtual Team to handle a large client globally.
  • Mrs PM is from company A and her resources are from company A, B, C, D and E.
  • Mrs PM has a project manager colleague who is from company B, and they both use the same resource pool to manage their projects.
  • Project Owner 1 is from company C and Project Owner 2 is from company D.
  • Project Sponsor is from company E who get paid from client.
Multinational company with different vendors:
  • Company XYZ is a multinational company and works with four vendors globally on each project.
  • Vendors are Company F, G, H, I
  • Vendors have technology, skillset and competency overlap and therefore are competitors in "some areas."
  • Mr PM is from company XYZ, Project owner is from company XYZ, most likely Project Sponsor is from company XYZ.
  • Both PM and project owner have power over vendors, and they can decide what to buy from each vendor.
At this post , I tried to demonstrate in brief challenges of a project manager at a Co-petitive Virtual Environment and a short comparison with a multinational company with virtual team across the glob. The challenges mentioned here are only organizational challenges and NOT strategic, infrastructure, technology, Human resource & competency challenges. These challenges also influences the ecosystem and as result impact project performance.

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