How To Improve Collaboration Between Teams

We recognize that blazingly fast and immensely powerful digital information systems are necessary to run large enterprises. However, our dependence on them has distracted us from realizing that there is a vastly larger human information system composed of your employees. Learning to use that human system even slightly better than your competitors provides you with an extraordinary advantage.

Collaboration is required to share information fast and accurately so that hidden truths can be revealed and false assumptions eliminated. Many good ideas are stuck in the pipeline because even motivated and skilled problem solvers are stuck when they cannot get the information from someone else.

Form a Steering Committee to Make Sure the Left Hand Knows What the Right Hand Is Doing. Successful companies actually need strong functional units that have competing needs.The real problem of improving collaboration is finding projects and ideas where there are only winners! These comprise the low-hanging fruit that teams across units like working on and that produce a stronger company. A steering committee should collectively review and approve all ideas as a team. There is absolutely nothing more powerful than having the heads of two functions sitting together and telling their teams how to work together to solve a problem.

“Pocket Fisherman,”Yes, “Pocket Veto,” No! In most corporate environments, the advocates of change bear the entire burden to prove the case for their idea. Those opposed to the idea can usually kill it just by doing nothing. We call this the pocket veto. Shift the burden of proof by changing the decision-making process. If advocates can show how their idea will add to earnings, the opponents must bear the burden of explaining why the idea should not be approved, by using facts — not power, politics or position.

Hold Collaboration Workshops. Collaboration workshops deliver new revenue and/or cost savings. They are highly structured to share information that will lead to low risk ideas that generate earnings. The planning and design ensure that these meetings are extraordinarily productive.

The One Monthly Meeting You Must Hold. Most of the time, priorities are actually set subconsciously by watching how leaders behave rather than by listening to what they say. If leaders personally engage to support implementation, then it will be clear to everyone that implementation is a priority. It only takes a little bit to go a long way. Even just one hour every month or two is plenty to create the accountability that will close the gap between the promises of approved ideas and the actual delivery.

Celebrate Good Times, Come On. Celebrating success is essential to building a culture of “one company” and of innovation. Nothing says, “I know who you are, and I appreciate what you’ve done” quite like saying, “I know who you are, and I appreciate what you’ve done.” Include as many contributors as possible — don’t forget the junior people  

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