employees sharing ideas while working with their devices

Bridging the Innovation Gap by Cutting Across Workplace Functions

Everybody’s probably heard the age-old saying that teamwork makes the dream work. While you recognize the heightened capabilities of working together when reaching a goal, collaboration can take many different forms. For example, some teams are autonomous and self-driven and readily perform work-specific activities without supervision. In stark contrast, some groups are strictly manager-led, but each member can exceptionally accomplish the job assigned to them.

However, you probably want to explore a team that goes beyond traditional definitions of how a group of people should collaborate—cross-functional teams that cut across various organizational functions and areas of expertise ranging from marketing, accounting, and base operations. And while some might argue that spanning and merging different fields can introduce inefficiencies and cause overlap in responsibilities, it might just be the solution to bridging an innovation gap and a plateau in performance.

What Can Cross-Functional Teams Offer?

Taking a step back, you can agree that conflicts of interest stem from misunderstanding or poor communication from different departments. Cross-functional teams remedy this problem by putting key actors together in the same working group. As a result, your business can achieve (1) new insights into existing industry challenges, (2) maximizing the progress of product development, and (3) introducing inter-departmental efficiency and collaborative effort. Here’s a brief explanation on these benefits brought by cross-functional teams:

  • New Insight into Existing Problems: Businesses from very different industries and sectors struggle with the same problem of acting on new trends, meeting emerging demand, and pivoting to solve present challenges. However, one of the primary reasons for any progress is tunnel vision and only accounting for one perspective when solutions are multi-faceted by nature. Therefore, with the help of cross-functional teams, you gain insight into solutions from a marketing standpoint, finance point of view, and even human resources, while seeing their drawbacks from varied angles.
  • Maximize Product Development: In practice, product development is often left in the careful hands of product designers and researchers; however, the inclusion of other experts can speed up and maximize the benefits gained from new features. For example, when the most prominent shoe brands like Nike and Adidas launch a new sneaker line, these shoes go through sports experts, athletes, and marketing specialists to help the company use all its strengths. In essence, it benefits from various inputs and picks apart the best details to include in the final product.
  • Introduce Interdepartmental Efficiency: With the global economy bouncing back and forecasts pointing to further bullish sentiment, business efficiency and stepping on the gas to meet demand is the mantra needed going into 2022. And where cross-functional teams step in is through interdepartmental efficiency, filling in possible weaknesses in a business framework that don’t often see the light of day. For example, consistent and regular collaboration with your legal head’s process servers, select finance division, and innovation lead helps businesses maintain patent protection and guarantee differentiation in their respective industries.

How Does It Even Work in the First Place?

Of course, it won’t be fair to discuss what cross-functional teams can offer without presenting how these goals are even achieved in the first place. Luckily enough, the very same concepts already function in many established companies and organizations with self-driven working groups, namely, (1) the promotion of group cohesiveness and (2) surpass the issues of groupthink:

  • Promotes Group Cohesiveness: Teams are only as strong as the satisfaction, utility, and solidarity gained from working in a group, and without these three factors, team members prefer to proceed alone. In the case of cross-functional teams, cohesiveness is always present because members depend on each other to understand the different angles to a problem and trust the expert advice provided by each other. And despite issues rarely ever being clear-cut, cross-functionality is better positioned to address challenges with collective effort.
  • Dismantles Groupthink and Echo Chambers: One of the main issues with the same people from a department constantly working together is that conformity leads to groupthink and eventually causes poor decisions. However, cross-functional teams surpass this limiting factor because professionals with different specializations are much harder to convince without reading the fine print. As a result, important information is never overlooked, and risks are mitigated to an acceptably low level.

Don’t Just Pass It Along—Communicate
employees communicating about their goals and plans

Cross-functional teams thrive on effective communication across different organizational functions and departments at the end of the day. Even if you don’t implement the same idea down to the last detail, this concept you must incorporate into your business startup. Companies can’t expect to stand out and make a change without looking inward first. The sooner your team’s collaboration improves, the faster you’ll reach those target performance goals.

Collaboration is crucial in any working environment. Cross-functional teams do that and more to your business. Start building a highly successful team today and see your business bloom.

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