In preparation for a strategic planning retreat, I was once assigned the task of doing a SWOT analysis with every department in our organization. It was amazing, and a bit depressing, to see hear how the different teams felt about each other. Their comments did not paint a picture of a diverse but unified group of people working together for the greater good of the whole. Rather, there seemed to be an “us” and “them” mentality with each team feeling that other teams presented an obstacle to performing at their best and achieving their mission. No one complained of outright sabotage. Instead, they felt that others were oblivious- oblivious to the challenges that their particular team faced and oblivious to the reasoning beyond the processes their team had put in place.
Perhaps (hopefully), teams aren’t quite that frustrated in your organization. However, if you’re not giving every one of your business teams the power and the tools to solve their own problems you run the risk of cultivating an “us vs. them” mentality in your organization.
Teams Should Be Able to Define Their Own Workflow
One of the basic things teams need to be able to control for themselves is their workflow. Simply put, no one outside of a particular team can really understand how that team works, what they need to do, and why they do things the way they do. Every team should be provided with workflow management tools (such as queues) and the means to measure their workflow. This allows them to analyze which tasks take the most time and which tasks are requested most frequently and allocate their resources appropriately. Teams can use knowledge of their team’s workflow to seek solution to particular pain points.
Teams Should Be Able to Define Their Own Knowledge Base
While it’s highly unlikely that anyone is actively trying to sabotage another team’s efforts, the fact is the actions we take in ignorance can affect how our organization performs. We may be the person who is obliviously being an obstacle to a business team who is working hard to do its job. One of the reasons that it’s good to let a business team build and share a knowledge base is that it allows them to communicate the rationale behind their processes. Understanding why makes it easier to comply. In some cases, a knowledge base may allow customers to serve themselves, leading to a faster resolution and less pressure on your team of specialists.
It also pulls a team together. As they build a knowledge base, team members see how their combined knowledge adds up to more than the sum of the parts. Since learning and sharing is done collaboratively it preserves and builds on your institutional knowledge. However, the most important function of a knowledge base is that it improves quality. Best practices aren’t static. They grow and evolve, which is why you need a collaborative knowledge base.
Teams Should Be Able to Define Their Own Processes
Finally business teams should be empowered to design their own processes. In today’s business world there are no generalists. Your co-workers were hired for the high level expertise they have in their disciplines. They are the ones who know what steps need to make place in order to ensure that a process is thorough, efficient and in compliance (both with internal policies and external regulations). Since they are the one who know, they should be the ones to define their processes.
Empowering a team makes it function like a team. When a team is can develop their own workflows, their own knowledge base and their own processes, members of that team take ownership. They see the outcome of their efforts and are motivated to continue refining and improving. It becomes an upward spiral that results in better service and better business.
One clear-cut strategy for endowing your teams with the resources they need is to give them proven tools that are designed to meet their needs. The combination of ProForma templates for business processes, JIRA Service Desk for service request management and Confluence for a knowledge base will allow any team in your organization to thrive. Visit us at http://www.thinktilt.com/ to learn how you can empower your teams today.