You’ve likely seen something in the news lately about dysfunction in Washington DC. This reminds me of a global project I led a few years ago with team members who spoke different languages. I facilitated discussions in English to help them understand each other and eliminate confusion. Imagine taking this scenario into an organization of 100, 1000, or 10,000 employees. Without clear communications between teams, you have cross-functional dysfunction.

I worked with two clients that suffered project setbacks because they didn’t see cross-functional dysfunction in their organizations. Like the conversations I had with my global project colleagues, functions were unclear on each other’s expectations, leading to delays in their change projects.

One client attempted to redesign their business with poor results. After coming in to identify and help resolve the issues, I learned there was poor cross-function communication before the change, which led to unmet expectations. In addition, there was lack of clarity in leadership roles, and historically functions did not support one another during change. All of this adds up to create cross-functionally dysfunction.

In another case, a client built a new organization where teams were required to rely on each other for success. Their respective roles were not clear, which created confusion and conflict between the teams. My job was to help the leadership team resolve this. Through extensive conversations about expectations, we eliminated the cross-functional dysfunction.

If you don’t get cross-functional expectations right, your change project will fail. Change requires teams to work together in new ways. If your teams are not prepared for this, cross-functional dysfunction becomes obvious, and adds significant risk to your change project.

If you are implementing significant change in your organization, answer these few questions to determine if your organization is ready.

  1. Is each team’s function role supporting the overall organization clear?
  2. Does the structure of the leadership team align with its charter or purpose?
  3. Are leader’s roles clear, particularly to one another?
  4. Are there clear hand offs between teams?
  5. During times of change, does each team consider the needs and requirements of other teams?

If you answered any of these as maybe or no, implementing large-scale change is risky. Take time make sure your organization is ready to work together effectively, and eliminate cross-functional dysfunction.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,



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