Early in my career at Whirlpool, I was asked to revive an underperforming electronic commerce team. One issue was a lack of understanding of how various functions of the company had to work together to create successful solutions. For example, to provide invoices to customers, order processing, distribution and accounts receivable had to work together differently. Helping them see this was a challenge. I dubbed this challenge “cross-functional dysfunction.”

Every change or transformation project in which I have been involved has required different functional teams to change the way the work with each other. When they don’t adopt change effectively, they experience cross-functional dysfunction at an operational level. These organizations brought me in to help them overcome these issues.

1. I have found a simple approach to help organizations identify and resolve issues that might otherwise cause cross-functional dysfunction.
2. dentify each function that will be impacted by the change.
Identify a top operational leader within each of the functions identified in step 1.
3. Ask these leaders to prepare the following as pre-work to a larger meeting:
a. Changes required in their organization based on their understanding of the change. These might be work process, policy, or people changes.
b. Changes they will need from their functional counterparts for them to successfully implement the change in their own function.
c. Impacts they will cause to their functional counterparts because of implementing the change.
4. Hold a meeting with these operational leaders to discuss their pre-work with their counterparts. Have someone document issues and solutions coming out of the discussion. These meetings are extremely powerful and can prevent problems later in the program.
5. Conduct follow-up meetings as needed to resolve all priority issues.

Each time I have employed this approach, the organization experiences greater success in driving their change. It is a simple, yet powerful approach to drive success.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,
Steve

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