Larry Irons digs ups some old research to show that distributed collaboration isn't just about getting your team on the same page. But figuring out who the team is in the first place.
Those advocating Enterprise 2.0, especially wikis, may consider the benefits described back in 2002 by Mortensen and Hinds obvious. However, I’d be surprised if managers in global organizations using cross-functional teams would agree that, on average, only 75% of the employees on any given distrbuted team agree about who is, and who is not, on their team. The implications for collaboration are significant. At the same time that wiki applications such as Socialtext People provide increased awareness of the boundaries of a team, they also increase the likelihood of finding people outside the team with expertise relevant to team challenges, resulting in more boundary spanning across teams. Overall, information sharing within teams and across teams increases.
Sounds like the making of a great Dilbert cartoon, outside the cubicles.
But this distributed problem is widely distributed. 85% of knowledge workers engage in distributed collaboration. That's a lot of nebulous teams.