Creating collaboration by breaking down silos
Our work at Resigility often involves helping clients develop strategies to transform, break down silos and improve results. With organizations of all shapes and sizes struggling to build stronger relationships across internal departments, I wanted to share some insights and outcomes from working with a client that’s enhancing cross-team collaboration.
We began working with this client in 2017 when a new CIO came aboard to lead the information technology department of a large federal government agency. With a reputation for driving transformation, this CIO quickly recognized that the department’s three offices were operating as fiefdoms, each with its own vision, mission statement, policies and procedures. The lack of coordination made it difficult for agency employees to know which office to contact for various IT services, resulting in confusion, dissatisfaction and inefficiency.
Resigility supported the CIO in initially breaking down organizational silos through an overall reorganization—the first in many years. By combining teams at the working level, the reorg necessitated cross-pollination and collaboration to meet the IT needs of agency employees. Yet the new organizational structure was just the start, with more work required to alter long-held behaviors and increase efficiency.
Communities, connectors, collaboration
The next phase was to align the department’s 32 team leaders—responsible for the majority of employees and contractors—into a community that met regularly to discuss common challenges. Despite kicking off this community in the all-remote work environment of 2021, the team leaders started becoming the department’s connectors, cultivating relationships with each other, removing barriers, and collaborating on best practices and lessons learned.
We then built on the organization’s history of competitive team-building activities by holding a virtual Olympic Games involving and integrating all three teams. Through a video-conferenced series of trivia, hangman, family feud and other accessible events, the three cross-departmental teams were forced to collaborate, communicate and strategize on who competed in the various contests. In addition to building new relationships and camaraderie, the Olympics produced a positive, fun and memorable activity at a time when it was most necessary.
While transformation takes time, our emphasis today is on sustaining opportunities for consistent, cross-team collaboration.
“I am a true believer that consistency generates change and we’re now seeing indications that the department is better addressing internal customer demands, delivering IT innovation and modernization, and advancing the agency’s mission by fostering—and sometimes forcing—collaboration.”
Just as we help clients eliminate data silos, please feel free to contact me if we can assist in breaking down organizational walls through new ways of working together, communicating and collaborating.