ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., -- On April 24, 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division's Regional Leadership Development Program (RLDP) students presented their final project to members of Regional Governance Board (R3) Conference at the Albuquerque District. The original graduation date was scheduled in September, 2013; however, do to extenuating circumstances, including budget and travel restraints and sequestration, the class was extended until April 2014.

The RLDP team, nicknamed the Sequester Seven, consisted of the following participants: Daniel Garcia, mechanical engineer, facilities design section and RLDP project manager, Albuquerque District; Kylan Kegel, civil engineer, engineering section, and deputy project manager for the RLDP project, Sacramento District; Cynthia Jo Fowler, environmental biologist and lead for the RLDP toolbox effort, San Francisco District; Jason Gipson, regulatory chief, Sacramento District; Ondrej Macejko, park ranger, San Francisco District; Kenneth Mueller, programs management chief, Los Angeles District; and Jimmy Granillo, accountant, Los Angeles District.

The original project assignment was selected by the Regional Management Board (RMB) Oct. 26, 2012, the first week of RLDP. Based on the new regional approach "Do the best with less!", the team was challenged to look at the psychology of change by focusing on cost savings that could result through the extended use of virtual collaboration efforts division-wide. Their goals were the following: survey SPD workforce knowledge; develop virtual collaboration processes; research virtual collaboration tools; and develop an actionable product. Their project mission: Develop an action plan and toolbox to promote virtual collaboration throughout the South Pacific Division. The mission was based on the following definition of virtual collaboration: A method of working together to accomplish goals utilizing regional expertise and technology-based resources with team members who are geographically separated.

The team's deliverables included a Virtual Collaboration Action Plan (VCAP) report, brownbag training, and brochure.

The virtual software package that the team selected is Defense Connect Online (DCO), which was created by Adobe for the Department of Defense. This package is already ACE-IT approved, accessible to all DOD employees, and is available to others outside DOD with a DOD sponsor.

The team reached the following conclusions: 1) Switching to virtual collaboration Corps-wide is not a matter of if, but when 2) There is a lot of interest regarding DCO at all SPD districts; and Marketing, training and leadership support of virtual collaboration tools and processes are the key to success.

The Communications Community of Practice (COP) is also interested in the team's project, the DCO package.

The team also summarized the leadership lessons learned, including the fact that the effectiveness of teamwork is created by leveraging different strengths through the individual personalities and backgrounds.