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The Simple Tool You Need to  Effectively Work Across Organizational Boundaries

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Posted by Rick Lepsinger July 23, 2015

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No company ever struggles with working across organizational boundaries — or, at least, they rarely recognize it as a primary cause of their problems.

Instead, they come to us with other concerns, such as:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Lack of productivity
  • Poor decision-making, which they attribute to poor leadership
  • Lower customer satisfaction and higher churn

They’ll tell us they need leadership coaching, better skill training or team-building exercises. Perhaps these concerns sound familiar, and your organization has had similar discussions.

While many companies do need help in these areas, we find many of their most significant challenges stem from a lack of collaboration across departments or functions.

There’s a simple solution that can enable organizations to address the root cause of the problem: the GRID Survey. Here, we’ll explain the purpose of the survey, how to use it and how it has helped some of the largest global organizations work more efficiently.

What Is the GRID Survey?

The GRID Survey is ideal for matrix organizations with departments and regions spread across the country or the world. Within a matrix, a lack of clear goals, responsibilities and decision authority can create confusion, which often slows progress. Reducing uncertainty that’s often inherent to this type of organization starts with defining these key elements.

The GRID Survey is a tool that assesses the extent to which people agree that the fundamentals necessary to succeed are in place. It gathers feedback from employees at all levels about their perceptions on:

  • Shared goals
  • Decision authority
  • Interpersonal relationships and trust
  • Processes for decision-making and problem solving
  • Success factors and recommendations for improvement

Often, the most telling insights come from individuals responsible for executing strategy, and those a level or two below the leadership team.

How to Use the GRID Survey To Facilitate Change

Once a GRID Survey is conducted, the results are compiled to highlight the organization’s greatest strengths and opportunities for improvement. This helps to facilitate conversation related to the factors required for cooperation and collaboration among a group of matrix partners or the members of a cross-functional team.

Based on the findings, the team develops a shared picture of what’s going well and the areas that require attention. This information can then be used to develop a plan for addressing the high priority problems first.

A third party with expertise in conducting this type of survey and facilitating the working session that follows, such as an organizational consulting firm, can add an element of objectivity and rigor. This allows for more accurate results and more robust recommendations, based on research-based best practices.

Results From the GRID Survey

OnPoint has used the GRID Survey as an important element in enhancing collaboration and execution for a variety of organizations.

We worked with Merck’s Drug Metabolism group that was facing the challenge of coordinating and collaborating with the Basic Research group in order to accelerate the development of new drugs. The company wanted to improve its communication and be better equipped to manage changing priorities and shifts in workload during this critical transition.

To identify the key challenges, we conducted a GRID Survey that included the members of both teams. We wanted to understand the benefits and potential negative impact the changes could have on their teams, as well as key obstacles to implementation. Then we facilitated a work session where the teams used the data as the basis for identifying and agreeing on the things that were in place that supported collaboration between the two groups and the areas that made collaboration more difficult. The shared picture of strengths and weaknesses enabled the team to develop and agree on a plan to improve how they worked together going forward. That included clearly defined roles and responsibilities and a plan for communicating key milestones to team members.

This work set the foundation for a successful transition.

We also worked with Susquehanna International Group to improve organizational alignment between the vertical teams the support trading operations and its “horizontal” functions, such as financial operations and business analysis.

Using the GRID Survey results, we were able to clarify the goals that would produce the most value for the organization and increase trust and cooperation among team members.

When organizations have a clear picture of what’s working and what isn’t across organizational boundaries, they can be more efficient and provide a more satisfying experience for their customers. This alignment is especially critical among sales, marketing and customer service departments.

To learn more about how your organization can align these departments to provide a more holistic customer experience, download this short guide, Aligning Your Company on Customer Values.

See Programs that will help your cross functional team

Topics: Work Better Across Boundaries, Cross-Functional Team Building, matrix organization, GRID Survey

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