How To Facilitate Knowledge Exchange Across Groups In Your Organization
Have you ever wondered about how to facilitate knowledge exchange across groups to understand boundaries and foster intergroup respect? Each group shares an image of its values, needs, hopes, fears and priorities with the other. In the process of doing this, both groups begin to understand the boundary between them and accept both differences and similarities between the two groups. When competing or opposing groups develop greater positive regard for each other, greater direction, alignment and commitment can develop between them. Below are several tactics that you can use to engage teams in the practice of knowledge exchange. I recommend that groups begin by learning about one another, then uncover deep differences and finally begin to identify commonalities.
Create Opportunities for Groups to Listen and Learn About One Another. There are many ways you can enable groups within your organization to listen and learn across boundaries. Create opportunities for your team to learn about other functions, regions and product lines by attending their communication sessions, reading postings on their intranet sites, and seeking to understand their strategic goals and priorities. Shadowing, job rotation and site visits encourage people to experience life in the organization from a different vantage point. Each of these steps will foster greater awareness about other groups and the potential collaborative opportunities between them.
Ask Powerful Questions to Uncover Deep Differences. Asking powerful questions can uncover the root of the challenges groups face when attempting to work together: the values, assumptions, perceptions and emotions that often form a wedge that leads to conflict rather than collaboration.
Let Commonalities Emerge From Differences. Digging into and understanding differences often uncovers the similarities that lie underneath. Thus, it is important to create opportunities for groups to learn about the ways in which they view and experience the world differently and to continue to dig deeper to uncover the values and perspectives they share.
Counteract the Tendency for Groups to Want to Make Them Like Us. Working together across boundaries requires accepting the differences that separate groups. However, energy and resources are wasted when a group tries to collaborate with another group by attempting to make Them more like Us. This almost always backfires. Groups just dig in their heels. Therefore, to accomplish reflecting, it is important to encourage groups to accept one another and focus on change from within.
Slow Groups Down to Speed Them Up. Though counterintuitive in an ever- faster world, slowing groups down for learning, perspective taking and knowledge exchange is essential. Time- outs and routine breaks enable groups to make sense of the complexity of the tasks they face.