Early in my career at Whirlpool, I was asked to revive an underperforming electronic commerce team. The team had several issues. Among the largest issues was a lack of understanding of how other parts of the company had to work together to create successful solutions. For example, to be successful in helping the company provide invoices to customers, order processing, distribution and accounts receivable had to work together in new and different ways. Helping them see this was a challenge. I dubbed this challenge “cross-functional dysfunction.”

Over time, and with the help of colleagues, we provided more effective solutions and eliminated most of the operational dysfunction that existed between various functions.

This is an operational example of cross-functional dysfunction and is relatively easy to identify. Elements that lead to this dysfunction can be harder to identify. If senior leaders are not aligned, or if their behaviors prevent them from becoming aligned, then it will be more difficult to identify and resolve cross-functional dysfunction.

It starts at the top. Senior leaders must be able to trust one another enough to enter healthy conflict, challenge each other, and hold one another accountable. Then they need to align on the purpose of change and on the intended outcomes. Next, they engaged lower levels of the organization to understand how the various functions impact each other. Finally, they must do this early in the change program so front-line managers and employees have a clear understanding of the change and how they need to implement it.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore these remedies in more detail. This will help you identify cross-functional dysfunction in your organization, and more importantly, help you resolve it.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,
Steve

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