It sounds right, doesn’t it? Declaring “Our organization needs to improve our cross-functional teamwork,” appears to signal that one prioritizes the alignment of employees toward an objective. What’s scary, however, is that the words may mean your company is already behind – and working at getting slower.

That’s because the very meaning of cross-functional collaboration means participants first identify with their function before they identify with the value (product or service) the company is trying to deliver to its customer. That sequence is important; if it’s not recognized and rectified, it will be a barrier to accomplishing speed and simplicity.

The motives of an employee whose identity is anchored in their functional responsibilities is different than the motives of an enterprise thinker whose identity is tied to the value the company delivers to the market.

An employee’s function provides a perspective and drives specific and unique skills. Cross-function dysfunction occurs when the employee builds an allegiance or bias to their function that results in the prioritization of individual responsibilities over the objectives of the organization. In these situations, the collective talents of employees are diminished.

What does cross-functional collaboration mean to your team? (Where do you get your identity?)

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