STRUCTURING VIRTUAL TEAMS
ListenReadSpeaker webReader: ListenFocusModule 1 – CaseThe Case Assignments for this course are tightly coordinated with the SLP and the Discussion assignments. In this Case Assignment, you will be considering the more conceptual topics that will guide you in structuring your team and its work. Your task is to apply what you learn from preparing the Cases to the way you build your team. The goal is that by the end of the course you will have had a chance to learn and practice what current management “gurus” are telling us about how to work in virtual teams and will be in a position to analyze how effective these practices are.Arguably the trickiest part of building and maintaining an effective virtual team is the task of balancing “togetherness” and “apartness.” Some insight was given to this question in the background reading. Now read an additional piece, which expands on this theme:Nemiro, J. (n.d.). Chapter 1: Mapping out the creative process and work design approach. In Creativity in virtual teams: Key components for success (pp. 3-23). John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/46/07879711/0787971146.pdfAfter considering the material in this reading as well as the background readings and any other research material you choose to use:Reflect on how a virtual team best addresses the balance between togetherness and apartness. Specifically, you will want to think about how the work in virtual teams is designed as well as how leadership is handled.What are the options for Work Design and Leadership of virtual teams?How do task requirements and team characteristics affect the choices of work design and leadership (such as rotating, etc.)? Be specific and give examples if appropriate.Assess the effectiveness of the structures/practices covered by the readings in this module for virtual teaming. (In other words, do they work, or are the authors of the readings hopelessly out of touch with reality?)Assignment ExpectationsYour paper, which should be 4 to 5 pages (excluding title and references pages) and include at least 3 scholarly sources, will be evaluated using the following 5 criteria:Assignment-Driven Criteria (Precision and Breadth): Does the paper adequately address all assignment expectations? Are the concepts behind the assignment addressed accurately and precisely using sound logic? Does the paper meet minimum length requirements?Critical Thinking (Critical Thinking and Depth): Does the paper demonstrate graduate-level analysis, in which information derived from multiple sources, expert opinions, and assumptions has been critically evaluated and synthesized in the formulation of a logical set of conclusions? Does the paper address the topic with sufficient depth of discussion and analysis?Business Writing (Clarity and Organization): Is the paper well written (clear, developed logically, and well organized)? Are the grammar, spelling, and vocabulary appropriate for graduate-level work? Are section headings included in all papers? Are paraphrasing and synthesis of concepts the primary means of responding to the assignment, or is justification/support instead conveyed through excessive use of direct quotations?Effective Use of Information (Information Literacy and References): Does the paper demonstrate that the student has read, understood, and can apply the background materials for the module? If required, has the student demonstrated effective research, as evidenced by student’s use of relevant and quality (library?) sources? Do additional sources used in paper provide strong support for conclusions drawn, and do they help in shaping the overall paper?Citing Sources: Does the student demonstrate an understanding of APA Style of referencing, by the inclusion of proper end references and in-text citations (for paraphrased text and direct quotations) as appropriate? Have all sources (e.g., references used from the Background page, the assignment readings, and outside research) been included, and are these properly cited? Have all end references been included within the body of the paper as in-text citations?Every team begins with a structure. Structure determines how the group works, how it is organized, and how it coordinates its activities. It also must be supported by the appropriate leadership style. The following background material will give you some tools to use when thinking about how to structure the team’s work.Team ProcessThere is no doubt that most teams engage in a process of creative work—often centered around solving some type of problem. Min Basadur, author of The Power of Innovation: How to Make Innovation a Way of Life & How to Put Creative Solutions to Work (2001), outlines an eight-stage cycle of creative problem solving that is applicable to both group and individual problem solving.Some of the steps in Basadur’s Simplex may be condensed in virtual teams due to faster pace: Problem finding, fact finding, and problem definition may be combined into an idea generation phase. Virtual teams may be more likely to be presented with a given problem, so less time is spent on finding the problem and more time on evaluating whether or not is it worthwhile to pursue. Thus, in a virtual team, the problem-solving process may look more like this:Idea GenerationDevelopmentFinalizationClosureJust as with the eight-stage model, each step in this four-stage model must be executed competently for the team to function effectively. Read:Pullan, Penny. (2016). Virtual leadership: practical strategies for getting the best out of virtual work and virtual teams. [Books24x7 version] Available in the Trident Online Library.Work DesignWork design is concerned with how the team moves through these stages. It is generally accepted that there are three basic options:Wheel design – In this design, the leader communicates with all group members, but individual members have little communication with each other. This design is particularly useful when decision making is centralized, there is permanent leadership, there is little task interdependence, and members have specialized expertise and high trust.Modular design – This is perhaps the most commonly used design. In this case, the group meets to decide on task or project goals, work is parceled out to individuals, and then the group meets again to assemble the pieces. The advantages are that the task can be broken down, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, there is no need for extensive feedback or cooperation, technology supports exchange of work, there is democratic decision making and accountability standards, and one person is ultimately responsible for assembling all pieces.Iterative approach – With this design, work is drafted, presented to the team, feedback is given, the work is redrafted, presented again, followed by more feedback. This work design requires task interaction, sufficient time, high willingness to accept input and cooperate, honesty, open communication systems and norms, and work-sharing technology.Leading Virtual TeamsDepending largely on the work design that is chosen, an appropriate leadership structure must be selected. There are basically four generic types:Permanent – This leadership structure is associated with centralized decision making and a high degree of role differentiation (silos of expertise). The leader serves to integrate all work, and high interaction is needed between the leader and members, but not between individual members; hence there is low interdependence.Rotating – Similar leadership roles are played by alternating team members. The team is characterized by a flat hierarchy, equal leadership abilities, high trust, low ego (the current leader must be willing to step down and submit to another leader), stability, standardized procedures and templates to insure consistency, and small size.Facilitator or coordinator – In this case, no individual carries formal authority over the work product or team tasks. These teams are self-managing but need additional support (e.g., leading meetings, scheduling, or tech support). Most of these types of teams are project teams comprising members from various functions who have regular supervisors for daily work. They are characterized by equal status and high communication among members. It is essential for the facilitator/coordinator to have strong interpersonal/conflict/decision-making skills.Leaderless – These teams are truly self-managed. All members have the same status, responsibilities are divided equally, and there is clarity of roles and high accountability. Power resides in expertise, decision making is democratic, and all members must possess equal commitment, shared outcomes, and high trust in each other.Because virtual teams face the additional challenge created by spatial and temporal separation, any leadership role, whether shared or individual, requires that certain key processes are managed even more intensely than with the co-located team. These key processes include:Building trustAppreciating diversityManaging the work cycle effectivelyMonitoring progressEnhancing visibility of team membersEnsuring that members benefit from the teamRead the following article (available in EBSCO – Business Source Complete Database) to learn how effective leaders of virtual teams approach these critical practices:Malhotra, A., Majchrzak, A., and Rosen, B. (2007) Leading virtual teams. Academy of Management Perspectives, 21(1), 60-70.A synopsis of Basadur’s Simplex model of group process can be found at:The Simplex Process. A robust creative problem-solving process. (2007) Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_10.htmFalconer, J. (n.d.) 10 free tools for collaboration. Lifehack. Retrieved from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/10-free-tools-for-collaboration.htmlMapping out the creative process and work design approach. Retrieved from http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/46/07879711/0787971146.pdfMapping Out the Creative Process and Work Design Approach There is a kind of iteration or reiteration cycle that keeps happening, individual work and then back out to the group. Some people will tear the project apart, others will say it looks great, and still others will offer a couple of ideas. And over a period of a month or so, it comes together into a final product, which gets together in a reasonable form and then [is] sent back out again. So there seems to be this kind of cycling of individual work, send it out, get comments, and bring it back. Matt, ACI IT IS NOT SURPRISING that contemporary organizations, faced with global competition and external environmental turbulence, require highly creative teams to survive. The need for creativity is particularly critical for virtual teams, teams that join individuals from across the globe to meet the demands of this fierce competitive global marketplace. The literature on virtual teams is expanding. Many (including myself) have argued that virtual teams 3 Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 44 Creativity in Virtual Teams are no different from more traditional face-to-face teams and that the skills and processes needed for effective virtual teams are the same as those for co-located teams. However, it has also been suggested that for virtual teams these same skills and processes may be more difficult to establish and take more time and effort to develop than in face-to-face teams. In this chapter, one of the key processes of virtual teams is examined—the process through which members of these teams create. What is involved in a virtual team’s creative process? How is a virtual team’s creative process simi lar to or different from that of traditional, co-located teams? The purpose of this chapter is to address these questions. This chapter contains several different threads of discussion. The chapter begins with an overview of the major approaches in the study of the creative process—linear, intuitive, and componential approaches. Then it presents a model of the unique stages of the creative process for virtual teams. This model is then compared and contrasted with the more traditional creative process models. Following that, three work design approaches commonly used by virtual teams to accomplish their creative efforts are described—the wheel, modular, and iterative approaches. Finally, an assessment tool is offered to assist virtual teams in appraising the current functioning of their creative process. Major Approaches in the Study of the Creative Process The creative process refers to the activities that occur while a person is creat ing. For years, a myriad of researchers and practitioners have examined the cre ative process. Theoretical models that attempt to conceptualize the creative process typically fall into one of three major approaches: (1) A linear approach, in which the creative process is viewed as a logical problem-solving process, (2) An intuitive approach, in which the creative process involves the use of insight, intuition, imagery, and a sudden change in perception, and (3) A com ponential approach, in which the creative process is only one element among the entire set of abilities, skills, traits, and processes that are involved in cre ative behavior. These major approaches are described in more detail next. Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 5Mapping Out the Creative Process and Work Design Approach 5 The Linear Approach: A Logical Path of Problem Solving Here the creative process is viewed as a logical, patterned sequence of steps or stages through which an individual or team moves to define, clarify, and work on a problem and then produce a solution to that problem. Individuals or teams make a conscious attempt to sit down and attack a problem or task using sev eral linear creative problem-solving techniques. Many theoretical models of the creative process further clarify and elaborate on the exact steps included in the process leading to a workable solution to a problem. One example is the “Complete Creative Problem Solving Process” developed by Min Basadur (1994). In this model, creative behavior is defined as a three-stage process that includes problem finding, problem solving, and solu tion implementation. Within each of these stages are two thinking processes, ideation (idea generation without evaluation) and evaluation (judging how use ful a generated idea is). Eight steps then occur across these three stages. Three steps are involved in the first stage of problem finding: problem find ing, fact finding, and problem defining. In the problem-finding step, problems are initially sensed and anticipated, as the environment is scanned for present and future problems. Information related to these newly sensed problems is then actively gathered in the fact-finding step. The facts are subsequently eval uated, and the most useful are utilized to develop a workable problem defini tion in the problem-defining step. Then, the problem definitions that appear to be most advantageous to solve are selected. The process then evolves into the problem-solving stage, which contains two steps: idea finding (solution-finding), and evaluation and selection. In idea finding, a large number of potential solutions for the problem definitions are generated. Following that, a smaller number of the most useful solutions are selected in the evaluation and selection step. During evaluation and selection, cri teria are established to determine which solutions are most appropriate for mov ing forward into the third stage, solution-implementation. A key characteristic of the solution-implementation stage is recognizing that problem solving does not end with having developed a good solution. Three steps comprise the work of solution-implementation: (1) action-planning, where specific action steps are created for successful implementation of the solution; (2) gaining-acceptance, where alternative ways are generated to create ownership among those affected Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 66 Creativity in Virtual Teams by the suggested action; and (3) taking-action, which involves the actual doing of the action. The model takes a circular form, where the ninth step is in actuality the first step of the next rotation or cycle to the creative process. Each action taken to implement a new solution automatically results in new problems, changes, and opportunities as it interacts with new elements in the environment. Some of the models within the linear approach take on a more flexible view of the creative process. Stages or steps are not viewed as a fixed number to be applied in a predetermined order, but are viewed as tools that are available when and as needed, for individuals or teams working on problems or open ended tasks. One such example is the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model. The model was initially developed by Alex Osborn (1963), the creator of the popular brainstorming technique used for idea generation. Osborn’s model was further refined by creativity experts Sidney Parnes (1981) and Treffinger, Isak sen, and Dorval (1994). In the current form, the CPS model has six stages, which have been clustered into three general components: (1) Understanding the prob lem (mess finding, data finding, problem finding); (2) Generating ideas (idea finding); and (3) Planning for action (solution finding, acceptance finding). The Intuitive Approach: Intuition and Insight For those who view creativity from a more intuitive perspective, the creative process is viewed as involuntary. It involves a relatively rapid change in one’s current way of thinking or perceiving. What occurs is a mental transformation that allows new ideas, meaning, or solutions to be suddenly discovered. There is little or no experience of a particular path one follows to a solution (as in the linear approach). The creative individual is often left to wonder “Where did the thought come from?” Intuitive techniques (discussed in detail in Chapter Six) emphasize developing in an individual or team a state of inner calmness (through the use of imagery, meditation, or visualization) to prepare individu als to access the intuitive solution when it arises. In this approach, the use of intuition and insight are necessary to achieve promising creative results. Intuition has been characterized as an unconscious process that is created out of one’s past experiences. It involves relying on one’s gut feeling about what is the right decision or direction to follow. Insight has been formally defined as a process where an individual or team suddenly moves from not knowing how to solve a problem to just simply knowing how to solve that problem (Mayer, 1999). Although the phenomena of intuition and Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 7Mapping Out the Creative Process and Work Design Approach 7 insight may overlap, they can be distinguished from one another. According to Emma Policastro, “Intuition entails vague and tacit knowledge, whereas insight involves sudden, and usually clear, awareness. In the context of creativity, intu ition may precede insight” (italics added) (1999, p. 90). Intuitions are frequently used early in the creative process to guide decision making. Experts often use intuition to size up situations quickly and accurately to decide on a specific and effective course of action. Evidence from several sources supports the importance of intuition in the creative process of both artists and scientists. In addition, top executives frequently rely on intuition to assist in making important decisions. These same executives have indicated that in most circumstances their initial intuitive hunches proved to be right. The creative process then continues after this initial use of intuition, as the indi vidual or team moves through a sequence in which a vague and implicit sense of what is right transforms into an explicit and integrated knowledge of how to produce the needed creative results (Policastro, 1999, p. 91). Intuition is often regarded as most useful in situations characterized by high stakes and uncertainty, by limited facts to assist in decision-making, by several plausible alternatives to choose from, and by pressure to make the right deci sion in a limited amount of time. In situations that require urgent action, there simply may not be the time to go through the logical stages and steps outlined in the linear creative process models. In urgent and pressing situations, one may choose intuition out of necessity—there isn’t always time to analyze each existing alternative. Although intuition may be the initial spark in a long path toward a creative outcome, insight is often characterized as a sudden revelation, transformation, change in perception, or “ah-ha” experience. In reality, insight is rarely as sud den as it may appear. Creative insights are generally the result of much prior reflection, knowledge, and action. Insight is sometimes seen as one stage of several that occur in the course of the creative process. The most traditional analysis of stages in the creative process was originated by Graham Wallas in 1926 in The Art of Thought. Wallas proposed a four-step model of the creative process: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. Preparation involves exploring and clarifying the situation, looking for what the real problem is, thinking about what may be needed to work toward a solution, and gathering and reviewing relevant data. In the incubation stage, conscious work on the problem is suspended. The Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 88 Creativity in Virtual Teams creative individual does not consciously work on the problem presented, but rather engages in things totally unrelated to the creative activity. Even though conscious work is suspended, a series of unconscious and involuntary mental events are stirring about, ready to spring forth into a revelation of sudden insight in the illumination stage. An “ah-ha” or “Eureka” feeling is experienced. There is a sudden change in perception, a new idea combination, or a trans formation that produces an acceptable solution to the problem at hand. This period is usually accompanied by a feeling of excitement and renewed interest in the creative activity. Insight, then, plays a key role in the illumination stage. Verification involves the use of logical and rational thought to translate this sud den insight into an appropriate solution. Evaluation of proposed solutions is made against objective criteria. The Interplay of Linear and Intuitive Approaches In real life situations, both linear and intuitive thinking are needed to produce highly creative results. A typical pattern in the creative process may involve logic preceding and following intuition and insight. The key difference between the two ways of thinking is that in more linear views the creative process is sequen tial. In intuitive approaches to creative activity, the process is holistic. Thus the creative process is a combination of hard work, logic, and intuitive insight. The Componential Approach: Capturing the Complexity of Creativity The creative process is only one element in componential models of creativity, which specify abilities, skills, personality traits, and processes involved in cre ative behavior (Lubart, 1999, p. 295). Although the exact components necessary for creativity vary from model to model, what they have in common is their capacity to capture the complexity of creativity with one framework. Compo nential models add further value by providing components on which highly creative individuals and teams may be assessed and identified, and by pro viding areas in which training may be developed for creativity enhancement. One of the first componential models of creativity was proposed by Teresa Amabile (1983, 1996) in her work on the social psychology of creativity. Amabile described a set of three components as necessary and sufficient for creative production: (1) Domain-relevant skills such as factual knowledge, tech nical skills, and special talents; (2) Creativity-relevant skills such as appropriate Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 9Mapping Out the Creative Process and Work Design Approach 9 cognitive style, knowledge of heuristics, and conducive work style; and (3) Task motivation such as the individual’s attitude toward the task and self-perception of motivation for undertaking the task. The process with the highest creativity contains high levels of all three com ponents. In addition, each of the three components contributes in varying degrees to five stages of the creative process. In the first stage of the creative process, a task or problem is presented. The component of task motivation is cru cial, for it determines whether the individual will engage in the task at all. In the second stage of the creative process, individuals prepare to generate solutions by building up or reactivating a store of information relevant to the task or problem. Domain-relevant skills are of particular importance in this stage. In the third stage of the creative process, the individual generates possible responses and solutions. Both creativity-relevant skills and task motivation are important and can affect both the quality and quantity of ideas generated. In the fourth stage of the creative process, the responses or solutions generated are evaluated and validated for their appropriateness or correctness to the task at hand and com municated to relevant stakeholders. Domain-relevant skills provide the knowl edge and assessment criteria to be used in this stage. In the fifth stage of the creative process, an outcome is achieved that is based on the results of stage four. If an idea is accepted, indicating success, or rejected, indicating failure, the cre ative process ends. If the idea is not wholly appropriate but does contribute sig nificantly to solving the problem, the process returns to stage one. (For more information on other componential models of creativity, see Finke, Ward, and Smith, 1992; Mumford and others, 1991; and Runco and Chand, 1995 [cognitive components approach]; Woodman and Schoenfeldt, 1990 [interactionist ap proach]; Sternberg and Lubart, 1991 [investment approach]; and Feldman, Csikszentmihalyi, and Gardner, 1994; Gruber, 1989 [systems approach]). Stages of the Virtual Team Creative Process Model Until recently, knowledge about the creative process had been limited to the study of individuals and organizations and, in some cases, groups or teams. However, the groups investigated have been traditional, face-to-face problem solving groups. In this section, a new model of the creative process is presented, one that has emerged from my discussions with virtual team members about Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 1010 Creativity in Virtual Teams how the creative process evolves in their teams. As will be seen, the virtual team creative process model has much in common with the more traditional creative process models discussed in the previous section. However, there are intriguing differences as well. Virtual teams follow a path of four stages in their quest toward the produc tion of creative results—idea generation, development, finalization and closure, and evaluation. The idea generation stage is ignited when someone on the team recognizes an unmet need, asks a question, or simply feels that exploring a specific endeavor would be intriguing. As Rick, a member of the ELC team, explains, “Well, when I instigate something, it’s usually because I see the need. But sometimes it’s just creativity, you know, this would be cool.” An individ ual team member (or a group of individuals within the team) then becomes the kicker and suggests an idea to the entire team. If the rest of the team agrees that the idea is worth pursuing and committing some initial time and resources to, the kicker then champions and begins to further define and mold the idea. After the kicker’s efforts are drafted, presented, and disseminated to the rest of the team, an iterative stage of development follows. Here, the team (or subset of the team) works to develop a product, project, or service that meets the initially proposed need, answers the initially-proposed question, or brings into action the specific endeavor that was found to be intriguing. Team members exchange drafts, designs, or prototypes back and forth, offer feedback to one another, and, as a result, continue to make revisions. Matt (of the ACI team) describes this period as a cycling of individual and group work. (More about this iterative process will be described in the section on work design approaches.) A creative experience typically would start with two people saying, “What if we did X,” or “We need to do X.” And typically one per son would say, “I’ll take a lead on this. Let me scratch out some pos sibilities we ought to consider.” Initiators will usually share possibilities on-line. People will respond electronically: “I like that, let me take A, you take D, and she’ll take X.” And they will do a lit tle work around that and then put that up for a reaction. So the process begins with one initiator deciding “It’s about time and I’ll take the lead.” Then, a template is developed that allows team members to grab pieces that interest them and do some creative individual work. Then, members will bounce their efforts off of one another. Such are the stages. An individual initiates, a couple of oth Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 11Mapping Out the Creative Process and Work Design Approach 11 ers kick ideas around, come back to a starting nucleus of possibili ties, divvy up those possibilities, respond to possibilities, and then bring their initial work back to the team to consider and assess. And there is usually one person who takes responsibility for kind of guiding the development work through all that iteration. Once ideas are developed into workable outcomes, the creative products are finalized and implemented. Here the team makes one last review and pulls together any last-minute loose ends. Closure occurs just before implementation of the product, project, or service. It’s almost like the last push in the birth of bringing the creative result into the world. After implementation, an evaluation period follows, in which team members get together and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the completed project. Although four stages to the creative process for virtual teams have been pro posed, it is crucial to realize that these stages may not be mutually exclusive. Activities in one stage may overlap and recur in another. For example, idea gen eration can also occur in the development stage; ideas need to be developed while they are being generated, and ideas are often evaluated before being fully developed. The trouble with viewing the creative process from a stage per spective is it attempts to linearize a process which in reality may be non-linear. Nevertheless, stage models are useful for organizing the decisions and activi ties involved in the creative process. Perhaps a better way to think about the stages of the creative process is, as Eveland (1990) suggests, to not “think of the sets of behaviors defined in most stage/phase models as steps on a stairway, but rather as rooms connected by a finite number of doors. Each room has core behaviors that take place within it; movement between rooms is divided by marker events that tell us when we are making significant behavioral transi tions from one kind of activity to another” (pp. 30–31). Comparing Traditional and Virtual Team Creative Process Models As I began to undertake a comparison of the creative process models discussed thus far, a series of overall steps in the process leading toward a creative result began to emerge. The process begins with an initial scan of the environment for pressing problems, challenges, or opportunities. Facts are then gathered to further clarify the problems identified in the initial scan. After the facts have been sorted through, the problem or problems are more formally defined. What follows is a Nemiro.c01 1/16/04 2:28 PM Page 1212 Creativity in Virtual Teams progression of steps leading to taking action, which include: (1) Generating and then evaluating solutions to the defined problem(s), (2) Creating an action plan for implementing solutions, (3) Gaining acceptance from those who will be af fected by the proposed action, and (4) Taking the action. After implementing an action, an evaluation period may occur to clarify needed modifications and re visions. In Table 1.1, the columns list each of the overall steps in the creative process (across the top). The corresponding steps and/or stages in each of the specific models discussed are listed in the rows. Arrows indicate that a step or stage of a particular model includes more than one of the overall steps of the cre ative process. An empty box indicates that a particular model does not have a corresponding step or stage for that particular overall step of the creative process. What is evident is that not all of the overall steps are included in each indi vidual creative process model. In addition, in some creative process models, several of the overall steps are subsumed in a particular step or stage of an indi vidual model. Interestingly, only three out of the five models (Amabile, 1983, 1996; Basadur, 1994; and the virtual team creative process model proposed in this chapter) address creating an action plan and taking action. At first glance, the virtual team creative process appears simplistic compared to the other linear creative process models (Basadur, Creative Problem Solving). This may be partly because virtual teams have been created around the need to develop cost-effective, instantaneous responses to customer and market demands. This electrifying pace with which business can and does take place electronically may leave little room for all the steps outlined in a more traditional linear approach to creativity. Intuition and insight may play a role in helping team members gain initial agreement on what intriguing ideas should be taken into the development phase. Additionally, in virtual teams, clients or managers often present team members with problems and challenges, which eliminates the need for protracted work on finding and defining problems. It does appear that in the creative process of virtual teams there is more of a push to get to development quickly. There is less emphasis on sorting through an abundance of problem definitions, and more of a focus on assessing whether presented or sensed problems are worthy to pursue. In addition, as previously stated, the iter ative stage of development in the creative process of virtual teams implies a more flexible view of the creative process, where activities occurring in one stage may overlap or recur in another stage. The boundaries between the four stages of a virtual team’s creative process can often become blurred.