Cross Boundary Teaming Is Vital For Innovation

Cross-boundary teaming helps people with diverse abilities and organizational affiliations fuse together in flexible and temporary arrangements in the pursuit of innovation

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Technology has enabled businesses to get more globally connected than ever before, allowing organizations to join forces across professions, geographies, and industries. These collaborations are a great way to enhance innovation and cross-pollinate ideas and competencies to get a task done efficiently. The efficacy of task-teams greatly depends upon the symphony among the diverse experts that come together for a project.

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In a rapidly and constantly evolving world, cross-boundary teaming within and across organisations is gaining traction to remain relevantly innovative. Alliances equipping diversified knowledge are seen to expand the horizon of opinions ideas and most importantly, the efficiencies that groups can draw upon to innovate.

It is easy to spot cases wherein teams have gone beyond functional confines and aligned across organisational boundaries in pursuit of innovation.

In an ambitious smart city project, individuals from some multinational organisations, local government bodies, and start-ups formed a consortium to develop a run-down Paris district into a technologically and ecologically smart locality

A Good Example

One more classic example of economic progress comprises of authorities in marketing, economics, finance, agriculture and supply chain management from Coco-Cola, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, and a NGO Technoserve, who joined hands on a mass impact project to enhance Haitian mango farmers' occupational practices and incomes.

Each of these cases of innovation points to the significant benefits of having a synchronized cross-boundary team. Members of task-oriented teams are people who need to have a thorough understanding of issues across their own knowledge boundaries. These provisional groups have a fluid membership to enable them to develop swiftly into a high-performing team to take on an unfamiliar project. This empowering initiative helps people with diverse abilities and organizational affiliations fuse together in flexible and temporary arrangements in the pursuit of innovation.

Yet, when it comes to implementation, teaming across knowledge boundaries is a tough row to hoe. Such team projects could have built-in hurdles because of varied communication styles, cultures, and professional standards. The natural tendency of organizations is to optimize locally — within a department or business unit rather than collaborating for a greater cause. Mostly, the sum of the parts doesn’t resort to a high-performing whole. Getting people to advance across boundaries usually requires a crisis approach or a consistent assertive push from the leadership.

It has been noticed that team members bump into these three cross-boundary challenges:

  • Difficulty in communication.

  • Difficulty in coordinating their contributions.

  • Difficulty in developing a shared mission and so, a dilute collaborative problem framing.

Whether the project crosses functions, organisations or industry sectors, to ensure a longing totality, these key questions have to be addressed:

Have the Basics of Success Been Addressed?

The very basic to succeed in any project is a clear purpose wrapped with goals and objectives to ignite energy, passion, commitment, and direction.  Ensuring adequate resources with both managerial and technical competencies come second.

Does the Reason for Collaboration Motivate Enough?

Partnerships that cross major boundaries and contain multiple systems need extra effort. Effective collaborations have clarity about the extra value generated.

How are Stakes Shared?

The line between the meaning of collaboration and notions of coordinating, cooperating, or contributing is really thin. Collaboration is an all-inclusive phenomenon that includes sharing resources, sharing risks, and sharing of tangible and intangible rewards.

Is the One Leading, a True Leader?

The feature of leadership as a symbolic role, one titled as being “in charge” is surely relevant in cross-boundary collaborations. However, the facet of leadership that doesn’t essentially need a definite position - the act of leading – moves to the forefront in cross-boundary collaborations.

Leading is the act of acquiring keen followers for a sequence of actions when the way forward is ambiguous.

In cross-boundary projects, members often avail great discretion when it comes to how much they will actually contribute to the pie. Leadership that makes the choice to participate compelling makes all the difference.

Collaborative platforms on social media or process workshops are some of the tools to help build and maintain teams that operate across organizational boundaries. Of course, these tools need to be complemented by shared goals, supervising structures and management processes to implement changes, monitor and celebrate progress.

The advantages of major collaborations across boundaries can be abundant. To set the stage, there has to be a firm handle on the project basics, a motivating motive for collaboration, a grip on how stakes are shared, persuasive leadership in place, and willingness to put the best relationship skills in action.

Pallavi Jha

Written By

Pallavi Jha is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Dale  Carnegie Training India which has international partnerships with some of the world's leading firms and brands such as Dale Carnegie, USA (training), and PerformanSe, France (Assessments). Pallavi has diversified exposure to various management practices in areas such as training and development, HR, consulting and business restructuring, covering a wide range of industries from media, entertainment, technology to the financial services sector and the engineering industry.  

Apart from being a keynote speaker and a panel member in various forums on business, HR, training and leadership and an active member of the Confederation of Indian Industry and has held offices of the Chairperson for Maharashtra Council, CII and the Skills Development Committee for CII, Western Region, she is also an active member of the National Council on Skills Development, CII and its National Sub-committee on School Education.  

As a member of Rotary Club of India, Pallavi pursues her efforts in social projects. She has also received recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow. Earlier, was Executive Director of India's leading construction company, HCC, an erstwhile Walchand Group company before starting off her own ventures. She also worked briefly in market research at Feedback Ventures and Procter & Gamble. Pallavi is an MBA from Syracuse University, New York and a graduate in humanities from St Xavier's College, Mumbai.