Cross-organization collaboration is used by many companies to help achieve goals faster. It allows organizations to work on the things they specialize in while outsourcing the things they don’t. Collaboration helps people understand each other better and allows them to learn new things. When teams collaborate, they increase their productivity and innovation.
Cross-organization collaboration requires effective two-way communication and will often call for higher levels of communication than that of single-organization projects. Establishing a structured collaborative work environment will help foster effective collaboration. Collaborative work environments should include dedicated space for meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other activities. This includes physical spaces where people can meet face-to-face for real-time collaboration when possible, as well as access to apps and virtual environments like video meetings and chats.
Collaboration is one of the biggest keys to success. When working with external users and organizations, you will find that a happy stakeholder is a productive stakeholder so prioritizing cross-team collaboration will pay off for your company.
Table of Contents
- Common challenges of cross-functional collaboration
- The Benefits of Cross-Organizational Collaboration
- Best practices for effective cross-organizational collaboration
Common challenges of cross-functional collaboration
Cross-organization teams often face a variety of unique obstacles during the collaborative process. There are many styles and techniques used to collaborate effectively, but each team needs to find what works best for them. Cross-organizational collaboration requires an intensive planning process before the project goes into action. Different organizations and their different departments will often have different communication styles so it is important to decide how your teams will communicate well ahead of time. Setting up performance metrics before the project starts will prove to be very beneficial in cross-organizational collaborations as they will be used to track progress and gauge success as the project advances.
1. Skewed team dynamics
Dynamic communication between cross-functional teams creates an effective working environment. When communication breaks down, conflicts and friction between employees begin. A lack of understanding can lead to microaggressions, animosity, and even hostility.
When teams work together on an entire project they are more likely to achieve success. There is no need to translate new ideas or project updates into simple language or “dumb it down” because everyone already understands the project. It is easier to come up with bright new ideas as your employees understand all angles of the project and can consider all relevant factors when making decisions. Fully understanding your team members and the project helps your team feel more connected to each other. This leads to a healthy collaborative culture and stronger interpersonal relationships.
2. Misaligned goals
Misaligned goals can have your teams working in circles. When everyone is focused on different metrics, nothing gets done. It is also important to maintain some level of consistency between your departments. People will feel like they’re losing control if every department has its own set of rules.
Instead of letting departments work against each other over the same goal or objective, project managers should figure out ways that their teams can work in harmony with each other to achieve common goals. Teams who work together toward a common goal are less likely to fall into silo thinking. Highlighting the importance of reaching this goal will motivate your team to prioritize the bigger picture in comparison to individual goals. When your team knows what the primary goal is and why it matters, they are much more likely to reach it. Teams can track their progress towards these goals by using metrics. Allowing individual teams to choose their own metrics can further motivate them as they work towards milestones they set for themselves. It also ensures that the metrics make sense for the project and are reasonable expectations.
3. Inefficient meetings and discussions
People collaborate differently today than they did 10 years ago. Collaboration is about combining your experiences and skillsets to create value together. With collaboration happening throughout companies more than ever before, inefficient meetings and discussions waste time and cut into profits. Many executives spend around 23 hours per week in meetings (hbr.org), many of which are inefficient and ineffective. 71% of senior managers agree with this sentiment while 65% said meetings slow down their work (hbr.org).
Meetings should always have an agenda that has been planned ahead of time. This will help make sure that no important points are missed while also saving time by improving flow. Everyone that attends a meeting should have an equal opportunity to contribute. Make sure that you have enough time to get through everyone’s opinions, junior employees can sometimes have better suggestions that executives. It is also important to have a clear conclusion after every discussion. Meetings are pointless if there are no action items or closures after them. Following these deeps can help make your meetings fast and effective.
The Benefits of Cross-Organizational Collaboration
Cross-organizational collaboration is about bringing different people together to accomplish something great. When two organizations share a common goal, cross-organizational collaboration can help them reach it. Product teams, marketing teams and executive teams will have to collaborate across all portions of a major project in order to ensure that everything runs without a hitch. Collaboration between these teams and many more will help streamline workflows and reach success together.
1. Increased Innovation
People from different organizations will often have different perspectives and experiences. Bringing them together can help identify new innovative ideas. Understanding how people approach a problem and the lens that they generate ideas through is essential when bringing people together. A good way to start solving a problem is by listening to what other people think about it. Brainstorming sessions can allow all departments to contribute to the product development and improvement process.
2. Faster Rate of Change
Involving people with different areas of expertise early on in the iterative process can help secure commitment and build trust. This will remove barriers to collaboration and cut down on delays. Your team will be able to create strong interpersonal relationships and work in harmony to solve problems.
3. Enhanced Organizational Knowledge
Cross-organizational collaboration requires a collaborative environment to be built within each department and between departments. Goal setting should take place in public and be communicated throughout the company. An organization must equip their employees with tools that facilitate communication and collaboration in order for them to reach these goals.
Best practices for effective cross-organizational collaboration
Cross-functional teams are made up of individuals who come together to solve problems. These problems often range across different departments or functions within an organization. The collaborative process brings your employees closer to each other, helping them feel valued and appreciated.
1. Establish and reinforce primary goals
Establishing clear goals helps everyone understand where the organization is heading. Secondary goals should always stem from primary goals. Allowing teams to set their own metrics of these goals will help motivate them to achieve success. The goals of individual teams may not always be the same, so it is important to come to a mutual understanding of each other. Your company’s sales team may want to push sales while the marketing team wants to generate leads. While these two goals are not the same, they work hand in hand to increase profits. Using the end result as a metric will prevent your team from working against each other.
2. Encourage transparency with channels
Transparency is rooted in accessibility and openness. Openness comes from having channels available for your employee’s communication. Channels are great tools for sharing information with everyone, but they should not replace other lines of direct communication. It is a good idea to set rules for what types of information should be put in channels.
3. Create rules of engagement for collaboration
Collaboration isn’t just about sitting down together and working on something, there are many other factors involved. Establishing rules of engagement will help teams work collaboratively while limiting conflicts. Setting guidelines for your team will help them focus on the task at hand instead of project politics. Collaboration is about bringing together different teams and individuals who work on projects or products to share information and ideas. There are many ways to collaborate, including email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and social media. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages so project managers should do their homework before creating a blueprint for collaboration. A successful collaboration strategy will enable employees to communicate effectively and efficiently.
4. Build a common cross-functional collaboration framework
A common digital workplace allows employees to collaborate across departments without having to switch between applications. Having multiple apps makes it harder for people to communicate effectively. It increases the odds of miscommunication and delays response times.
A common digital workplace helps everyone work together efficiently. Cross-functional teams are often hard to find, and even harder to keep together. There are many different ways to collaborate, but most companies choose between email and video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype. The costs of using premium collaboration tools can be very expensive for companies with thousands of employees. Investing in the right tool may pay off many times over in the long run.
In conclusion, collaboration between organizations is vital to success. However, it takes a lot of planning and preparation to ensure that everyone involved understands their roles and responsibilities. This means that you need to set aside time to discuss these issues and agree upon a plan of action.
The key to successful collaboration is hidden within the challenges companies for for cross-organizational collaboration. It’s upto the company’s management to take note of the issues and find solutions within them to solve the cross-organizational collaboration issues within a company.