The Benefits of Cross Functional Collaboration
Collaboration is a natural part of working together in teams and, in most businesses, it happens organically within functions or business units without any management intervention. However, it is less likely to occur across different roles, departments or functions where it has the ability to make maximum impact. It is difficult to overstate the potential that cross functional collaboration has to improve business performance.
Here are just a few of its advantages:
- Different Perspectives Spur Innovation
Everyone looks at problems from where they sit, and the view can be very different from the marketing office than the production floor. Bringing people from different parts of the company together can shed light on easily fixed process problems and deliver surprising new approaches to the most difficult challenges. Having people with different motivations look at the same issue can deliver results that satisfy everyone.
- Things Happen Faster
Lack of interest, lack of trust, or a shallow understanding of the problem can create resistance to downstream functions and delay or derail the implementation of great ideas for innovation. 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.
- Everyone Learns More
Collaboration with people who are experts in different areas of the business cross-pollinates knowledge and makes everyone a bit smarter about how their work fits into the overall picture. There’s certainly an advantage, for example, in having a marketing coordinator who understands how finance processes payments to vendors. As an additional benefit, increased curiosity about other parts of the organization may help employees envision a career path within the company.
- Old Ideas are Challenged
Everyone knows how difficult it is to proofread your own work. A new set of eyes can be an essential tool in identifying errors and finding opportunities for improvement. Cross functional collaboration creates an environment where “the way we’ve always done it” can be questioned and considered from a fresh perspective.
- The Playing Field is Leveled
Structure and hierarchy are important elements of any organization, but sometimes a more multi- directional approach can yield greater reports. Cross functional collaboration means that all ideas aren’t coming from the executive suite. People at any level can participate in innovation and contribute to the execution of great ideas.
Cross functional collaboration is a way of life in the most successful companies. The benefits are plentiful and the barriers are small. It isn’t something that will happen without active engagement and structure, but the effort is well worth the payoff.