Solving Inter-Departmental Problems
Most Departments have problems with other Departments.
For example, your Department could have some kind of a problem with an internal supplier (Operations with HR for example) or with an internal customer (Manufacturing with Sales) - etc.
And most of the times, these inter-Departmental problems tend to not to go away and stay in the organization, hindering performance in the long run.
If you try this short exercise that I describe here below (it will take you about one hour tops) - and you do it well - I guarantee to you that you will come away with practical, effective, and very useful insights, and it will help you improve the relationship (and the performance) with the Department you are having problems with.
To being, assign a person to facilitate this exercise. Ideally, it should be someone who is neutral - this person could be a superior to whom both Departments report.
Then, assemble a small group of people from the two Departments that are having problems with each other. A total of 8 or 12 people - 4 or 6 employees from each Department (not more, no less), 5 do not work because it is not an even number.
Select employees that know their respective Departments well - and who understand the nature of the problem(s) in depth.
You need a room at least 8 meters by 8 meters big, with three flipcharts, one for the facilitator, and two for the participants - plus three (black, blue and red) markers for each flipchart.
Then form two groups, having in each group an equal number of employees from each Department.
Now, each group will brainstorm and write on flipchart paper strengths and weaknesses from each Department - take 15 minutes to brainstorm as many ideas as the group can come up with.
Remember that brainstorming is more about quantity than about quality - all ideas are valid and must be written down on the flipchart.
Also, brainstorming is not about being right or being wrong - because perception is reality.
Note 1: The strengths and weakness that participants will brainstorm must be about the relationship with the other Department - not about the Departments in isolation.
Note 2: While brainstorming, participants are highly encouraged to talk among themselves about insights, possible solutions, and possible next steps - and to write them down too.
After brainstorming, the facilitator debriefs with the entire group three things: First, what they learned in the brainstorming phase (insights). Second, what possible solutions they see. And third, what specific next steps could be concluded from this exercise.
It will take you one hour to do this exercise maximum, but both Departments will come away with a new and much more effective way of working together, making it a win-win-win situation (for one Department, for the other Department, and for the Manager responsible for the performance of both Departments).
Do it - and you will be amazed at the improvement that you will achieve.
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Jose Luis Romero - Publisher
May 1, 2012. Copyright: All rights reserved
I publish "Leader Newsletter" on the first Tuesday of every month