Problems across boundaries require a different approach
How do you engage other departments in problems? Most organizations do this at the wrong time.
This is why efforts like value stream mapping exist. People we don’t engage across functions on an ongoing basis, we need over-the-top efforts to break in and start to solve those cross-boundary issues. But value stream mapping, and the improvements it generates, is inherently a workaround. It’s a workaround to the fact that we don’t know how to surface and engage those programs on an ongoing basis.
Here is how we typically solve problems across boundaries:
See the problem?
By the time we get to the point of engagement, we have a very tough uphill battle getting any agreement. When we solve the problem in isolation, several problems occur:
- We may have the wrong problem statement, which means our solution may not be very effective.
- Our investigation will be narrow, based only on our perspective.
- The creativity may be lacking in the solution development.
- A starting point of resistance when it comes to solution acceptance.
Instead, we need to change the behaviors in terms of how we collaborate across departments. It should look more like this:
See the difference?
Why is this harder? We give up control, or at least the illusion of control. When we collaborate, openly, that’s exactly what happens. But that collaborations leads to more effective outcomes.
It’s harder because it often requires a deeper investigation, but if the problem occurs between departments then we need to look between departments to understand.
And it is harder because when we take the latter approach, and the other department doesn’t acquiesce, then we can sit comfortably and complain that it’s their fault.
As is often the case, the right choice is the harder choice.
What happens when you see a problem between departments? What behavior do you demonstrate?