Teaming up with colleagues you normally wouldn’t think would benefit your line of work? It seems far off – but it can also spark favourable outcomes across the company.
The international design and innovation company IDEO found out that teams working together across functions and work together daily has a 38% increase in success rates. How could this be? After all, you would think this would already exist if it was beneficial.
Many companies have yet to discover its positive effects. If you let employees from different departments that usually do not work together, team up – you open up for new connections to form. Input, inspiration, knowledge, seeing a problem from another angle, and so on. After all, creativity and innovation often happens when two diverse pieces are connected to form a new and otherwise unseen connection.
So how can you facilitate such “odd” connections?
Well, it can be for specific projects or in a more subtle tweaks at the office. The main idea is to connect different minds. Here are some examples:
- Open up a previously restricted project from one or two departments to anyone in the organization, regardless of rank or department.
- Place “social connectors” between departements such as shared meeting rooms, couches and coffee machines to encourage conversations.
- Make your kick-off meetings open to anyone (if possible) to increase the spread of information and cross-department conversation
- Encourage short, social gatherings during work hours to get to know more people within your organization.
- Make sure your department information is spread wide in the organization, but on platforms where employees can decide when (and if) they want to read it.
- Actively ask others you don´t normally ask/ work with for their input
- Consider structuring future projects or issues within your department to include an “outsider” regularly to allow for new “sparks”.
Regular contact across fields, departments and physical locations is the key here. It may take some time before you can reap the benefits, as much of innovation is incremental. Employee surveys also confirm that this extended social contact is both appreciated and positively strengthens the company culture. A phase of initial scepticism is very common. The upside of doing it however, is almost invaluable.