Breaking Down Silos Takes a Team Effort

Cross-functional Team ProjectThere are a number of situations under which breaking down silos should become a priority for organizations:

  • Company has experienced rapid growth.
  • There has been a merger.
  • There has been an acquisition.
  • The team is spread out at many different locations.

Fortunately, more organizations are recognizing the need. For large or complex organizations, successful execution requires a team effort involving members of the executive and management teams, event or meeting planners and OD specialists or team building facilitators.

Setting the Context

First, let's look at how the context should be set. These steps are outside the scope of responsibilities for event and meeting planners but, if the organization requires help, corporate event planners can be instrumental in helping organizations identify the need to bring in internal or external OD specialists or team building facilitators to work with the executive team to set the context.

  1. Be proactive.

    Recognize the fact that there are key junctures in corporate development at which managing cross-functional teamwork is essential. (See previous list.)
     
  2. Identify the areas in which the silo mentality is impeding performance.

    Quantify the impact.
     
  3. Based on the the specific areas in which improvements is needed, set objectives.
     
  4. Identify cross-functional projects to address each area in which performance improvement is needed.
     
  5. Select an Executive Sponsor and an issue Owner at the Management Level for Each Project.
     
  6. Form the Cross-functional Project Teams.

    Be sure to put individuals who find it challenging to work together on the same team.
     

Managing Meeting Logistics

Next come the core responsibilities of the meeting or event planner. (For large organizations, strategic meetings management will be important to incorporate into the process.)

  1. Identify the supplies and equipment that each team requires
     
  2. Select Venues.
     
  3. Fine-tune Core Messages.
     
  4. Design Communication Processes and Material for Approval.
     
  5. Arrange Catering.
     
  6. Manage Process of Reproducing and Packaging Meeting Material 
     
  7. Set up and Liaise with the Venues.
     
  8. Greet & Register Participants.
     
  9. Distribute Meeting Material.
     

Briefing & Preparing the Cross-Functional Teams

  1. Conduct a meeting or a series of forums to communicate the goals, objectives and desired improvements.

    The 2 components are an executive briefing to set the context and a facilitator briefing to prepare for the simulation.
     
  2. Business Team Building SimulationsFacilitate a business simulation to introduce a standard suite of project management tools to streamline cross-functional processes and communication.

    Examples:

Assign & Manage Projects

The facilitators can continue to work with them as long as they require assistance, however, the goal is for each team to become self-sufficient.

  1. Select 2 Members of Each Team: the issue owner and an internal team leader/facilitator.
     
  2. Facilitator Briefs each Team About the Details of Their Projects
     
  3. Initial Project Meetings Take Place
     
  4. Project Meeting Schedule is Set
     
  5. Project Execution
     
  6. Project Debriefing and Evaluation
     

After working through a specific project there should be a noticeable improvement in cross-functional team work. Not only will members of various departments know each other better, they will also have a shared set of tools and process and a success under their belt on which they can build.

Clarity of roles and responsibilities and regular checkpoints between meeting planners, facilitators and their mutual clients is a key to the success of initiatives intended to break down silos.

For more tips, read 16 Steps for Improving Cross-Functional Team Meetings, Checklist for Selecting Team Building Facilitators, Business Simulation Tips and Working with Speakers and Facilitators on Cvent Event Blog.

Photo Credit: Team Facilitation, Executive Oasis International

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