Virtual teams need 'Social Software' as well as 'Groupware'
There is a debate raging (see below) over the blogosphere at the minute about a new type of software - 'social software'. It was fanned about a year ago by an excellent article in Darwin Magazine where Stowe Boyd described "social software" as the "opposite of project oriented collaboration tools".
The article ('Are you ready for social software') suggested that social software primarily supports the desire of individuals to affiliate and network.
He contrasted this with 'groupware' where people have already been placed in formal groups but now need help to collaborate on project work.
In a previous article ("Virtual teamwork, relationships and social network connectivity") I emphasised the importance of internal team relationships ('bonding' social capital) and external team relationships ('bridging' social capital) in making virtually networked teams effective.
Virtual Teams that are too focussed on 'bonding' may produce technically excellent work which nobody outside the team, including their customers, actually value!
Virtual Teams that are too focussed on 'bridging' can be loved by everyone but never actually deliver anything useful!
So to try and move the debate on my input is that, in the context of virtual teams in organisations, we will miss the point if we debate the pros and cons of social software versus groupware as if it was an 'either or' situation.
I predict that as virtual tool developers start to understand the true nature of virtual teams better and particularly their social aspects they will provide new generations of virtual collaboration technology, which will offer the facilities of both social software and groupware in an integrated way.
To join the debate
Bioteams Books Reviews
Teams, networks, groups and their members behave in an irrational way but quite predictably so. A good team leader will understand this and use it to everyone’s advantage. One key point is to knowing each team members motivations and whether they are operating in “social economy” or “market economy” mindsets.