Collaboration is a normal part of working together in teams. In most businesses, it happens organically within functions or business units without any intentional management intervention. However, collaboration is less likely to occur across different departments or business units where it can make maximum impact.
That's why customers turn to KaiNexus for a solution that supports continuous improvement throughout the organization, making it possible for leaders to achieve their most critical strategic goals on the way to true operational excellence.
Cross-functional collaboration happens when people from different operational areas work together to solve problems and implement process improvements. Many of the issues organizations find most challenging involve the moments when work passes from one department or business unit to another. That's why cross-functional collaboration is such an essential continuous improvement mandate.
Examples of cross-functional improvement projects include:
Sales and marketing teams working together to improve the process of managing leads.
Manufacturing floor managers and procurement administrators making improvements to reduce excess inventory or ensure part availability.
Receptionists, medical assistants, and clinicians optimizing operations for on-time appointments.
Customer support agents, engineers, and website developers working together to deliver a better eCommerce experience.
The possibilities for improved operations are endless and depend on the nature of the organization, but there are opportunities for cross-functional collaboration in small businesses and huge enterprises alike.
It isn't easy to overstate the potential that frictionless collaboration has to improve business results. Here are just a few of the advantages:
Everyone looks at problems from their perspective, but the picture can be very different from the marketing office than the production floor. Bringing people from other areas of the company can offer insight into easily fixed process problems and deliver surprising new ways to approach the most difficult challenges. In addition, having people with different personal interests look at the same issue can provide results that satisfy everyone.
Lack of concern, trust, or a shallow understanding of the problem can create resistance, delaying or derailing the implementation of exceptional ideas for innovation. Involving people with different skills and areas of influence from the start of a project helps secure buy-in, empathy, and confidence.
Collaborating with people who are experts in different areas of the business cross-pollinates information. It makes everyone a bit more knowledgeable about how their work fits into the overall picture. There's an advantage, for example, in having a customer service agent who understands how shipments are processed for customers. As a bonus, increased curiosity about other parts of the organization may help employees think about a career path within the company.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to proofread your work? A fresh set of eyes is a valuable tool in identifying errors and finding opportunities for improvement. Organizations that are great at cross-functional collaboration operate in an environment where "The way we've always done it" is frequently questioned and considered from a new point of view.
Structure and hierarchy are essential elements of any organization, but a more multi-directional approach can often yield great results. There's no reason why great ideas must spring from the executive suite. Employees at any level can participate in innovation and contribute to building an excellent origination with effective processes.
Managers, supervisors, and employees are usually measured against goals and objectives specific to their function and role. This makes sense but can lead to a situation where each team prioritizes activities that will further successful completion of their own goals, leaving little room for projects or improvements that will benefit other groups or move the organization toward its strategic goals.
KaiNexus makes it possible for organizations that are serious about improvement to cascade strategic goals down to the individual level. With tools like the X-matrix and team boards, employees gain a clear understanding of how their work on collaborative assignments will move the organization closer to its breakthrough objectives.
In many companies, departments operate in silos, with little dialogue between them. Sometimes teams develop their own language with terms and phrases that have meaning only to them. However, effective collaboration requires constant communication, so organizations that don't actively support the exchange of ideas struggle to act as a cohesive team.
With the KaiNexus improvement platform, organizations establish a common language around the organization's improvement efforts. Of course, it helps to adopt or borrow from a business management methodology like Six Sigma or Lean because these approaches come with pre-defined concepts and techniques. Still, the common culture can be achieved without them by using the KaiNexus platform across all departments.
It is typical for different departments to have different technology that drives their everyday operations. Sales reps, for example, rely on a CRM to track opportunties, while the development team uses an entirely different ticketing system for bugs. While it makes sense for each team to use the best-of-breed software platform for their core function, this can hinder cross-functional improvement work.
With KaiNexus, organizations get technology explicitly designed for cross-functional collaboration. Transparency is an essential ingredient for collaboration. KaiNexus ensures that everyone has a real-time view of the status of active improvement projects, speeding the pace of change and creating a repository for future opportunities for improvement. In addition to supporting today's improvement efforts, KaiNexus serves as a repository for tribal knowledge, an asset that pays dividends long into the future.
Collaboration is about a mutual commitment toward common goals and the willingness to expend the effort necessary to achieve them. It is in every leader's best interest to lay the foundation for a unified approach to innovation and improvement. KaiNexus can help.