To Make Virtual Teams Succeed, Pick the Right Players

Setting up small, high-performing virtual teams has enormous potential for companies to increase sales, penetrate new markets, improve business processes and come up with the next generation of disruptive innovations. But putting together a great team is tricky.

Part of the problem is that teams—both the virtual and co-located types—are often thrown together without much thought or planning.

At a large, multinational manufacturing company Ferrazzi Greenlight recently worked with, a virtual team was formed to deal with the company’s complex interdependent businesses. The goal was to optimize decision-making all along the value chain and boost earnings by tens of millions of dollars.

But when we looked under the covers it was clear not enough thought had gone into selecting members. The team was huge—more than 30 people—with a mixture of business, manufacturing, and commercial leaders, some of whom reported to each other. Many who were selected (seemingly because of seniority) lacked the deep technical knowledge vital for optimization decisions. By the time we were asked to help, members openly acknowledged that the team was in disarray and its decisions had failed to boost earnings as expected.


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Keith Ferrazzi

Keith Ferrazzi


New York Times best-selling author, speaker

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