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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


How Cross-functional Training Maximizes Employee Value

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 6, 2021 2:37:33 PM

The traditional siloed approach to business operations where everyone stays in their "lane" is giving way to a more cooperative, collaborative approach. Organizations have found that cross-training employees lead to a more innovative take on improvement and waste reduction. Not only does it offer the opportunity for employees to learn new skills, but it also gives everyone a more holistic view of the business.

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Topics: Collaboration

11 Reasons to Use Cross-Functional Teams

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 8, 2020 2:59:00 PM

Organizations turn to cross-functional teams for a variety of reasons. Almost everyone can agree that this type of collaboration is essential for innovation and business performance. By breaking down organizational silos, teams can pursue a goal more efficiently. Here are 11 reasons why you should use cross-functional teams.

1. Innovation

Fresh perspectives can lead to “ah-ha” moments and truly innovative ideas for improvement. The more familiar one is with a situation, the more difficult it becomes to recognize inefficient workarounds that have been baked into processes. A new set of eyes is sometimes all it takes to achieve a breakthrough.

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Topics: Collaboration

How to Keep a Remote Workforce Engaged in Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Apr 6, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Before I start this post on how to keep a workforce that has suddenly moved to a remote model due to the coronavirus engaged and motivated, I want to begin by acknowledging those workers who can't do their job from home.

Without the hospital staff, grocery store workers, pharmacists, first responders, delivery drivers, utility workers, assisted living employees, and countless others in our communities, this situation would be even worse than it is.

We see you. We thank you.

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Topics: Collaboration, Improvement Process

4 Strategies to Improve Cross Functional Collaboration

Posted by Allan Wilson

Feb 18, 2020 11:36:21 AM

Many business leaders see cross functional collaboration as the key to innovation and optimal business performance. Almost everyone agrees that it's good to have more cross functional collaboration, but not every business has devoted the effort to creating conditions that are likely to result in more of it. If you find yourself in this position, here are a few simple strategies that can help set the stage for a more cohesive relationship between various parts of the organization.


Involve Influencers

In most organizations, there are a number of individuals who are natural connectors. To borrow a word from junior high, these employees are “popular.” They are the perfect individuals to involve in your cross functional collaboration efforts because it likely comes naturally to them, and because where they go, others will follow. If you are creating a cross-functional team to solve a particular problem, for example, be sure to include one or more influencers.

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Topics: Collaboration

7 Simple Tips for Building Cross Functional Teams

Posted by Maggie Millard

Aug 3, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Last year, research by the Harvard Business Review found that 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional, meaning that “They fail on at least three of five criteria: 1) meeting a planned budget; 2) staying on schedule; 3) adhering to specifications; 4) meeting customer expectations; and/or 5) maintaining alignment with the company’s corporate goals." Yikes.

According to the researchers, “Cross-functional teams often fail because the organization lacks a systemic approach. Teams are hurt by unclear governance, by a lack of accountability, by goals that lack specificity, and by organizations’ failure to prioritize the success of cross-functional projects.”

With a smart approach to cross-functional collaboration and some attention to the details, your cross-functional team does not have to be doomed. Try these tips to avoid the fate that so many have suffered.

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Topics: Collaboration

6 Reasons Why Your Cross Functional Teams Need Software to Collaborate

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jun 1, 2016 7:00:00 AM

In most organizations, the most challenging problems are those that span multiple teams, departments, or divisions. For example, many companies struggle to create a seamless customer onboarding experience, or a quote to ship process, without any hiccups. Why are these goals so difficult? Largely because no single group can make them happen alone.

Cross functional collaboration is difficult partly due to communications barriers, different working styles and workflows, and different tools used by each group. Software designed to remove these obstacles and grease the skids of cooperation provides significant help.

When it comes to improvement, cross functional team collaboration is especially important. Getting people from across your organization working together to solve problems that plague them all ensures that you take diverse approaches and achieve the best solutions.

Here are a few of the features you should look for if you want to remove the silos and get your teams working as one.

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Topics: Collaboration

Catchball: An Essential Practice for Flat Organizations

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Nov 24, 2015 7:30:00 AM

A flat organizational structure with few or no levels of middle management can be extremely conducive to innovation and improvement. Well-trained, engaged workers can be more creative and collaborative when they are more directly involved in the decision making process and not separated from leadership by layers of management. However, without good planning and accountability practices, ambiguity about who is responsible for what can become problematic and allow improvement tasks to fall through the cracks. Catchball can help.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Collaboration

How I Learned the Habit of Exceptional Cross Functional Teams

Posted by Amber Newman

Oct 14, 2015 8:38:57 AM

When I was 22 and just starting my career, I was the administrative assistant to the President of a software company. One of my responsibilities was to take the notes in the weekly executive meeting. I wasn’t expected to participate in the meeting, just to document the discussion. At one point we hired a new CIO. He was a distinguished technology executive with many years’ experience. He was also European and intimidating as heck.

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Topics: Collaboration

4 Must-Haves for Cultivating Cross Functional Collaboration

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jul 29, 2015 6:44:00 AM

I go to the farmer’s market every weekend. I'm always in awe of the beauty and variety of the harvest the farmers produce. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so colorful and fragrant, I really enjoy just walking around and having a look. Their variety and success is amazing, but not accidental. This produce didn’t just grow randomly. Each farmer decided what he or she wanted to grow. They found the proper place to plant each seed, and carefully nurtured the plants until the food was ripe. 

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Topics: Collaboration

Lean Coffee: A Radically Effective Approach for Discussion

Posted by Mark Graban

Jul 23, 2015 12:41:00 PM

We’ve probably all gone to conferences that have the same, relatively stale format. Most often, a series of speakers gets up on stage for hour-long blocks of time. Even if the speaker is engaging and effective, it’s essentially one-way communication that leads to passive listeners. Some of the lean back listening time gets interrupted with a few audience questions.

This dynamic usually means a missed opportunity when you’ve created and gathered a community of people who are all working on the same things. Conference goers have a lot to share and learn from each other in more interactive ways.

That’s why something called “Open Space Technology” (OST), or more commonly just Open Space, is a great way to shake up a conference or replace the traditional conference all together.

Wikipedia defines OST as a:

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Collaboration

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