Cross-functional collaboration is a group of people with different functional expertise coming together to work toward a common goal. In many cases, the team is simply a group of people from the different departments across a business working on solving a specific problem. A team of this composition has the potential to implement significant improvements throughout the organisation which is an epic tool in a culture of continuous improvement!
This type of diversity allows business to:
1. Create a culture of continuous improvements in which employees take ownership of problems and work together to bring about solutions
2. Increase teamwork, leading to greater levels of commitment to continuous improvement from everyone.
3. Improve communication between diverse, dispersed groups of people
4. Increase the chance that positive change can actually stick.
So, what are the benefits?
Collaboration is a natural part of working in teams, and in most businesses, it happens organically within functions or business units. However, it is less likely to occur across different roles, departments or functions – which are precisely the areas in which it has the potential for the maximum impact. Cross-functional collaboration is critical to improving business performance.
1: Different Perspectives Spur Innovation
Everyone see's problems from their own perspective and the view can be very different from the director’s perspective to the administration officer’s. Bringing people from different parts of the business together can shed light on process problems and deliver innovative solutions that satisfy everyone – it also allows fresh eyes the opportunity to see something old eyes may miss.
2: Increased Momentum of Change
Involving people with different areas of influence from the beginning helps secure buy-in, empathy, and trust. There’s less ‘turf’ to be protected and everyone is on the same page, so there are far fewer delays.
Collaboration with people who are experts in different areas of the business cross-pollinates knowledge and helps everyone to understand how their work fits into the bigger picture. There’s certainly an advantage, for example in having a Marketing Coordinator who understands how finance processes payments to vendors.
4: Old Ideas are Challenged
Everyone knows how difficult it is to proof-read your own work. A new set of eyes can be a huge help in finding errors and opportunities for improvement in all types of work. Cross-functional collaboration creates an environment where “the way we’ve always done it” mentality can be questioned and considered from a fresh perspective.
5: The Playing Field is Leveled
Structure and hierarchy are important elements of any business, but sometimes a more multi-directional approach can yield greater results. Cross-functional collaboration means that not all ideas come from the executive suite or a single department with a dominant leader. People at any level can participate in innovation and contribute to the execution of great ideas, which increases buy-in and engagement on the front lines.
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