What common obstacle gets in the way of cross-departmental collaboration?
Your Cardboard Tube!
After attending a recent ‘awayday’ with colleagues from various departments and coming away with a much greater sense of how we can work together and align towards the same goals I decided to do a mini-blog to share learnings.
Are you playing ‘Pirates of the Corporate-being’?
As departments, we are all too frequently guilty of having tunnel vision. Do you remember being a kid and you finally got your hand on the cardboard tube from the centre of the tin foil?
What was the first thing you did with that cardboard tube? That’s right, you put it up to one eye, closed the other eye and peered at things like a pirate looking through a telescope. “Shiver my timbers“.
OK I was like 4 or 5 when I last did that but, we all did it. 😉
OK eye patches off and back to the current day and here we are, still peering at those targets through those hypothetical tubes, all pointing toward the same company target.
We all have our sights firmly fixed and we know what we need to do but do we really know if ‘others’ are seeing the same goals? Have the same KPIs? Are aware of what help we need from them?
We’re, all limited by our own tunnel vision of our own job descriptions and team functions. This is one of the main root causes for communication breakdowns and conflicts across departments.
We never take the time to sit back, take off the pirate eye-patch and really look at the targets through the eyes and minds of our colleagues in other departments.
Offer colleagues from other departments the opportunity to step into your shoes. The aim being to give colleagues a basic understanding of how your department functions. Find out what and how they are working to reach their goals.
The more you can look up from your cardboard tube and encourage others to do the same the more likely you are to see how you are all part of the bigger picture. This is especially important for regular processes that touch multiple departments.
Arrange regular time to:
- Brainstorm new ways of working together
- Invite colleagues from other departments to you team meetings.
- Share concerns and discuss challenges
- Celebrate successes together
- Listen to the frustrations of others
- Build working relationships
- Agree on actions and align project time-lines
- Network and have a laugh
Your success as a collaborative company is the result of your actions and your priorities. Cross-departmental collaboration is not something that comes naturally to grown up pirates.
It needs a little help to be nurtured at all levels of the company, with clear intentions.
I am going to keep this one short and with cardboard telescope and eye-patch safely back in the toy box, I encourage you to share your experiences and thoughts.