Chip is the head of a privately owned, highly successful financial services firm whose associates and research fellows are spread out around the globe. The corporate headquarters are in upstate New York, but as Chip told me, “Sometimes I'm there alone, and sometimes it's just one other person and me. Oftentimes the offices are empty—as all of us may all be working from home or traveling to meet with clients.”
His is a virtual organization, heavily dependent on technology for connection and collaboration. Of necessity, Chip utilizes an array of computer-mediated communication tools, including e-mail, wikis, blogs, and videoconferencing. And, of course, he is constantly using his BlackBerry for private conversations, teleconferences, and text messaging.
But even though his geographically dispersed organization is technologically equipped and connected, Chip also creates opportunities for face-to-face meetings. Once a week he hosts a dinner party with all local staff, and as often as possible he flies to international locations to do the same with staff there. Annually he gets his entire workforce together for a two-day strategic planning meeting, where he builds extra time for socializing into the agenda.
Why would a leader, whose company is so infused with technology, still invest the time, energy, and money to get employees together for all these face-to-face encounters?
This chapter will answer that ...