MBA students, how often do you find yourself suddenly realizing that you made a commitment to your MBA team and that commitment is due tomorrow? Or, your MBA team has an assignment that is due tomorrow and you are responsible for consolidating the work of your teammates and you have yet to hear from any of them? My experience is that both situations occur far more frequently than they should, especially in EMBA, part time, or online MBA programs. Simply stated, the root cause of situations like these is “out of sight, out of mind.”
What does “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” mean in an MBA context?
Let me explain what I mean by “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” I will start by using definitions from three dictionaries of idioms found online and then add sentences at the end to place the explanation in an MBA context.
1) If you do not see someone or something frequently, you will forget about it.If you do not see your MBA team frequently, you will forget about them and your commitments to them.
2) Something that you say which means if you do not hear about … someone … for a period of time, you stop thinking about them.If you do not hear from your MBA team, you will forget about them and your commitments to them.
3) Not able to be seen and so not thought about. If your MBA team members cannot physically see you, they will not think of you or the commitments made to you, or if your MBA team members do not see you online, they may not think of you or they will not see you as a willing participant in team activities.
“Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” seems to result when there is a lack of presence, either a mental, physical, or electronic presence. The lack of electronic presence provides the basis for my word change in the article title, “Out of Site Sight, Out of Mind” meaning there is a lack of visibility or presence on the team’s web site or workspace. Virtual work requires an electronic presence, a presence demonstrated by logging into a web site or workspace, depositing work, participating in asynchronous activities, etc.
How can MBA students create a presence that leads to “In Sight, In Mind?”
How can MBA team members create and maintain a presence and eliminate the “out of site sight, out of mind” condition as a root cause for some of the team’s problems or performance issues? I think there are at least three ways MBA team members connect or stay connected:
1) Impromptu – make contact with team members when the urge, need, or thought strikes. Typically, an impromptu contact ignores team member availability or the possibility that contact may be disruptive to a team member. This may be the least effective way to maintain a presence.
2) Scheduled meetings – team members agree on a date, time, and means of meeting. Meetings can be recurring, that is the same day and time each week, or chaining by scheduling the next meeting date and time at the conclusion of the current meeting. This approach takes into consideration the commitments of individual team members. However, subsequent changes to individual schedules may result in some team members missing a meeting.
3) Electronic presence – team members create and maintain an electronic or virtual presence using technology such as some form of Instant Messaging (IM). IM applications display your status telling people in your contact list your availability for interaction. Likewise, the status of each of your contacts is next to their name for you to view. Displaying status creates a virtual presence for you and your team members. Typically, status icons and their meaning include:
To effectively create and manage an electronic presence requires some discipline on the part of team members, for example, users often neglect changing their status. One approach is to start the IM application automatically when turning on the computer or smart phone and using the default icon of green.
I find using IM tools to create a virtual presence very effective for teams with which I work. As more MBA programs leverage learning technologies and become team based, the more there will be a need for MBA students, teams, and faculty to maintain some type of team presence.
How do you and your MBA team members create and manage presence? Maybe you found another way of avoiding the “out of sight, out of mind” condition. Share your comments below.
Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of MyeEMBA.com