A working style where teams and individuals from different business functions come together to focus on a common project, objective, or goal. Cross functional collaboration is a core tactic in the realm of Enablement.
3 benefits of cross functional collaborationWhy is cross functional collaboration so important? Here are three benefits: 1) Increased innovation; 2) Improved communications; 3) Reduction in cycle times. Click To Tweet
Three of the many benefits that will help to convince you of implementing cross functional collaboration in your organization are:
1. Increase innovation in product and process
The major difference between working in cross functional teams and working in silos is how much easier communication, innovation and problem solving are.
Cross functional teams work together to find common problems that different departments are facing. And working with different departments complements any knowledge gaps individual departments may have.
This is, in part, what makes it easier for these types of teams to find more comprehensive and innovate solutions to problems. As well as create more innovate products.
After all: think about what you can achieve when the product design stage includes data from marketing, sales, product usage data, UX and UI design, and other data sources.
Integrating all this information at the beginning makes for increased efficiencies at every stage of the process.
2. Improved communication skills
As briefly touched on in the first point, cross collaborative teams tend to have improved communication skills. This is because different departments sometimes have their own language. And by working together, eventually each department will start to communicate in a way that everyone understands.
Which makes discusses the pros and cons of a project from different points of view.
After all, if you’ve ever worked with a web developer or IT specialist, they sometimes sound like they’re talking Klingon. After a time, they get used to explaining things in a way people outside their profession an understand.
And this applies for many other types of people with specific expertise.
With these improved communication skills, producing innovate and/or successful work can be done in a more streamline and efficient way.
3. Reduce cycle times
The more you know, the more useful you are.
Cross functional teams are better equipped to identify, assess, and troubleshoot inefficiencies. Which means they can solve problems faster, and improve efficiencies so that cycle times are faster.
An example of this is: instead of customer being bounced from one department to another: a cross functional team can work together to resolve a request or issue, and so provide a better customer experience.
Just as this work well for everyday things like customer interactions, it also works for projects such as developing new products and features.
5 Tips for creating an environment conducive for this collaborationDo you want to create an environment conducive to cross functional collaboration? Here's how: 1) Team diversity; 2) Sharing knowledge is encouraged; 3) Strong leadership; 4) Communications tech; 5) Shared and transparent KPIs. Click To Tweet
So many things can be done to create the ideal work environment for cross functional collaboration. The five best tips are:
When creating a cross-functional team you want a variety of professional backgrounds, genders, locations, and ethnicities. Creating a team with these attributes make a team more diverse and insightful in leadership style, thought, and skill.
These types of teams assess problems and formulate a solution to successfully solve them; quickly.
Leverage shared knowledge
A team that doesn’t share their knowledge and expertise, no matter how diverse the team members are, isn’t a cross functional team.
Cross functional teams thrive off the fact that members are from different departments, with different levels of work and life experience. All of this should be used when working together.
Everything that needs troubleshooting, every new idea for a product or service needs the full attention and knowledge of everyone on the team.
Strong, respected leader
With so many different departments, a strong leader is vital. Someone who keeps the team members accountable for their contributions and individual efforts.
Because this is a diverse range of departments, a leader needs to not only be strong but also someone who inspires the respect and confidence of the team.
And, as with all leaders, they must be excellent communicators.
Using communication tools
Project management apps are your friend. There are so many good ones out there, all you need is one that allows your team to communicate in real time, share files and documents, as well as updates.
A centralized communication tool also helps people stay connected in a way emails and spreadsheets cannot.
KPIs and project milestones
Key performance indicators (KPIs) and project milestones help cross functional teams stay on track. And they’re a great way of keeping team members accountable, and measuring their effectiveness.
Project milestones are also a useful way of letting team members know when they are doing well. And this has been shown to help boost morale and improve productivity.
Tips for being an effective collaborator
To be an effective collaborator a team member needs to be good at communicating, and be a team player. They need to have an understanding of their own, and the team’s, objectives.
The most effective collaborators are always learning with their colleagues, sharing knowledge, and contributing.
Effective collaborators are also good at giving and taking constructive criticism, as well as being able to adapt to the situation in front of them.
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Living Enablement as a practitioner and as a leader. I’ve seen the confusion and frustration that many practitioners live. From working in other areas of the business, I’ve also seen the genuine need for the capabilities that enablement provides.