"The importance of social networks is growing, too. It's more important than ever to know who is an internationally significant expert in which field. Whereas in the past the emphasis was on what you knew, nowadays whom you know is at least important," Tikkanen says. Tikkanen is establishing a new cross-disciplinary network as he sets up an expert network for Aalto University. "Within a few months, we have to create common research and teaching concepts for the new university. It'll be interesting to see what kinds of new expert networks and operational models will arise from the experiences of the business school, industrial arts school and polytechnic and how we can get their top units to collaborate," he says. A VIRTUAL CHALLENGE TO LEADERSHIP Working within a network means spreading work outside of one's own organisation. On a growing basis, companies that are internationalising their operations work on a virtual basis over the internet. Network-like, decentralised work is also becoming more common in public administration. Meanwhile, the need to fight climate change is encouraging some firms to strengthen opportunities for working online. For management, this poses new challenges. How can people be led through an electronic network so that they feel they are doing meaningful work and so that work motivation remains high? How should one act in situations of change or conflict? How can creative teams be developed online? Iris Humala, program director at HSE Executive Education Ltd, published a book last year about the challenges of virtual management. As she sees it, virtual data networks are changing the manager's role from strategic decision-making to creating key social relationships at the core of the network and around it. "Management of virtual work calls for trusted leaders, since the success of virtual work depends on functioning social relationships. Without mutual confidence, there can be no common vision or genuine cooperative relationships," Humala asserts. Decentralised virtual work, she says, demands new sorts of management skills which foster the development of strong, trusting relationships in an online environment. "This new management is thus based on the notion that management is everybody's concern and that management empowers others," Humala says. To a large extent, virtual management means mentoring, coaching, support and motivation. A manager must also be easier to reach at any time even though the work has dispersed. "For virtual cooperation to really bear fruit, the employees must not get the feeling that they are somehow bothering the manager with questions or enquiries," Humala says. A manager's role is no longer to monitor employees' work from above, but to show the way and create a meaningful atmosphere for virtual work. The success of virtual work requires face-to-face meetings at least at the beginning of working collaboration. Shared goals should be set out in a positive atmosphere at meetings that respect all participants. For example, inviting important speakers or guests to take part in a meeting or dinner helps creative employees feel that they are valued while also ensuring that the message of shared goals is effectively conveyed. 62 BLUE WINGS OCTOBER 2008 It's not what you know, but whom you know. www.alcatraz.fi SIMPLY THE BEST Chic, Cool & Dance Black Jack
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