How well do members of your company work with one another to accomplish the goals of the company? In distant years, you were a member of a “group”. Then, you became a member of a “team”. Later, you were part of a “cross-functional team”, which then morphed into a “project team”. The most recent variation I have heard is “cohesive collaboration”. Whatever keyword phrase you decide to use, the ultimate measurement of how well your employees work together can be measured in dollars and cents . . . with a little dose of morale thrown in.
This becomes especially important when the achievement of said corporate goals requires different functional groups to work together for the common good of the company. As used in this article, Interdisciplinary Mechanics refers to the process by which multiple disciplines interface with different functional groups. This, in and of itself, can be a challenge because of the influences affecting the participants, such as:
- Educational background & training
The education we receive is typically silo-driven. That is, most of us were taught one primary discipline in school (i.e. accounting, marketing, engineering, etc.) which has been subsequently reinforced through the professional training we have received.
- Real world experience
As a result of the above, most people have sought a career profession in line with their education. Consequently, they become more entrenched in their functional silo as the years go by.
- Ability in interpersonal communication
You have heard it said that people are either introverts of extroverts. Some sociologists have broken it down even further to define people as singular relational, group relational, or multi-relational, as a way to define their natural ability to interact with others. How people are “wired” affects their ability to interface with others.
- Predispositions toward other departmental functions
People are unique in that they have predisposition about nearly everything. While some can be easily changed, others are deeply entrenched. “This company wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the sales department!” “The engineering department is the backbone of this company!” “You guys in Sales are useless unless Manufacturing provides you with products!” And the list goes on . . . These deeply seated values affect people’s ability to work across the aisle. (Just look at our own U.S. Congress.)
- Personal ambition
While it would be nice to think we live and work in a “Kumbayah” world, the reality is that we are dealing with people who have different agendas. While some are eager to work with their counterparts from different departments, there are others who first seek their own advantage – be it career progression, power, money, influence, or fame – before they consider how, or if, they will work with others. This approach can doom a project before it starts.
- Degree of understanding & acceptance of the company’s strategic goals and tactical milestones
If we assume that we have an organization of compliant people eager to work together, their success in doing so is precluded by their individual and common understanding of the strategies and tactics of the company. The greater their understanding, the higher the probability of success. However, the converse is also true.
The rise of the global economy has taught us that future success lies with those who can work with others, be it different cultures or different functional orientations. Business needs to embrace this sociological shift in order to maintain parity with the direction society is heading. Acquiring a higher level of proficiency in Interdisciplinary Mechanics is a necessary path to achieve this end result.