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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

11 Reasons to Use Cross Functional Teams

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 28, 2016 10:55:04 AM

The top reason organizations turn to cross functional teams is for the purpose of addressing a challenge that crosses departmental boundaries. That’s a pretty obvious reason to use the approach, but it is far from the only one. Here are 10 more.

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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 Surprising 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

Top 5 Challenges Faced by Cross Functional Teams

Posted by Maggie Millard

Sep 21, 2015 8:36:24 AM

Effective cross functional collaboration can be the key to tackling an organization’s toughest problems. Cross functional teams can serve as pockets of innovation, and improve both individual and group performance. There’s very little question about their value. The question is, why are cross functional teams so difficult to manage and maintain? Understanding some of the challenges faced by cross functional teams is the first step in making them work.

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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

Open Space & 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

Incremental Improvement Man: The Superhero for Modern Business

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 22, 2015 8:50:00 AM

Since all the summer movies the last few years are superhero movies, I came up with a great idea for a new superhero: Incremental Improvement Man

As you may have already guessed, Warner Brothers and Paramount are not fighting over who gets to write me a big check for the script for Incremental Improvement Man, Part I – The Battle of the Seven Wastes.  Incremental improvement just doesn’t sound like something that will get butts in seats, but it should. Once in a while someone will come up with a grand idea that transforms your company and saves the day from certain doom, but usually the heroes are far quieter. They’re the people who see the small flaws that have big consequences. They tackle issues before the crisis develops. It’s bad drama, but great business. Here’s how you can become an incremental improvement superhero.

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Topics: Collaboration

How to Explain Your Lean Culture to a New Hire

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 17, 2015 8:14:00 AM

lean cultureI was chatting with a colleague about customer success in enterprise software companies and the conversation turned to the onboarding process. She said, “If you look at the most unhappy customers of any software company, even those that have been customers for a long time, you are bound to find that most of them had a terrible onboarding experience.”

She has an excellent point. Those early interactions with your company set the tone for the relationship that can last for years to come. The same is true for your new hires. The employee’s level of engagement over the long term can be impacted by how they are welcomed to the team. A graceful introduction of your Lean culture can make all the difference.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture, Collaboration

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