Creating Synergy Between Cross Functional Teams

By Tiffany Chepul

    Mon, Jun 24, 2013 @ 06:55 AM KPIs & Dashboards, Strategy Execution, Effective Meetings

    One of the most important components of the Rhythm Systems, Think-Plan-Do Rhythm is to implement a planning rhythm that includes the next level of management.  Taking Think-Plan-Do to operational teams creates alignment to the company plan and helps each team get focused on the next 90 days.Synergy  But, how can that help teams that need to work together?  How do you get two operational teams to work together, not only in a positive way, but in a way that produces maximum impact on results?

    I asked some of my clients who do this well and found some great Bright Spots to share:

    • Proximity can be worth a thousand meetings.   One of the companies physically moved the purchasing team and the sales teams to sit right alongside each other.  The desired outcome was to increase gross margin.  The purchasing team bought the products that the sales team was to sell.  Hearing each other on the phone, celebrating “big deals” across the aisles and gaining a better understanding of how each other works has helped this team completely turn around gross margin in one quarter!
    • Set goals as a group.  As Jim Collins says, “Begin with the end in mind.”  In the example above, both teams should be aligned around common Red Yellow Green success criteria.  What’s success?  What’s failure?  Both teams should have input and discuss, debate, agree.
    • Visibility is a motivator.  Another company was suffering from dysfunctional communication between the sales and implementation teams.  As a result, there was a huge implementation backlog and customer happiness was starting to suffer.  The CEO installed large TV screens in both the sales and implementation areas of the office.  Everyday the screen would display a few daily KPIs:  Number of sales, number of days from sales to full implementation, number of implementations completed and customer survey results.  The implementation team knew that they had to complete 3x implementations compared to number of sales per day to clear their backlog.  The sales team knew exactly how many days to quote clients regarding their implementation.  As a result of setting proper expectations, customer survey results began to improve.
    • Celebration is a team sport.  In the example above, the person who made the sale or completed the implementation added it to the tally on the shared screen.  They rang a bell, said a woo-hoo and kept it positive.  At the end of the quarter when goals were met, there was a celebration including both teams.  Sometimes there were spontaneous celebrations along the way: “Whoever gets the highest customer survey result this week gets dinner and a movie on us!
    • Use Rhythm as a communication accelerator.  One of the most powerful things about using Rhythm with operational teams is the amount of visibility it gives to the CEO and executive team.  Teams should maximize this visibility as well.  If two departments need to work closely, they should spend 5-10 minutes looking at each other's EnergyMaps at their Weekly Meetings.  In the example above, the Purchasing Team should spend 10 minutes at the end of their Weekly Meeting taking a quick, high-level peek at the Sales Team's EnergyMap in Rhythm.

    We would love for you to share other creative ideas for breaking down barriers and improving communication and collaboration between departments.  What have you done that has worked?

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