Coming Together, Across Departments and Continents
In today’s world, companies have become more atomized than ever: departments are hyper specialized and hire experts over generalists. Cross-departmental collaboration happens sporadically and often exclusively for one-time special projects.
As departments silo, employees do too. More and more organizations are building distributed and remote teams: not only can a company’s offices be strewn across states, time zones, or continents, but workers in a given area are isolated from one another, each working from his or her home.
To be clear, this is for the best. Flexible arrangements benefit all workers, and businesses now have the whole world at their disposal to go after talent. And without specialists, businesses lose their competitive advantage.
But there is something important lost when we can’t truly connect with a coworker, whether because they’re in Finance and speak a different language than you do, or are in France, and, well you know.
How can companies break down the barriers that they’ve had to put up in the name of efficiency? By building a shared purpose across the organization.
We’ve seen this work in a number of ways, but the key is bringing people together to work on something bigger than their own work and that of their immediate colleagues.
Capital One, for example, drove an organization-wide initiative to train all staff on human centered design. Employees across departments sat in workshops together to learn about how to put customers at the center of everything they do for the company. The togetherness among staff that Of Course saw as trainers within that initiative was incredible.
We’ve also worked with multinational organizations that use global days of service to build that shared purpose: in one day or one week, thousands of employees volunteer on social impact projects in their local communities. Such massive volunteering has been proven to dramatically increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
As organizations get increasingly more complex and globalized, it’s never been more important to build shared purpose. How would you go about doing so in your organization?