Nov 17, 2020

Accenture: How to drive cross-functional collaboration

Cross Functional
Georgia Wilson
3 min
Cross functional collaboration
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want, to go farther, go together is the message from a new Accenture report into cross-functional collaboration...

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want, to go farther, go together, is the message from an Accenture report into how organisations can drive cross-functional collaboration.

According to Accenture, cross-functional collaboration is not an end state, or even a means to an end. “It must be a central organisational imperative for companies in a post-COVID-19, never-normal world, and a strategic focus for executives tasked with sustaining digital transformation efforts.”

When executed effectively, greater collaboration across functional boundaries can not only reduce waste and costs, but also earn measurable financial returns, outlines the report, Together Makes Better - How to drive cross-functional collaboration.

Accenture’s Industry X.0 Research study shows established companies struggle with cross-functional collaboration. In a survey 1,500 global senior and C-level executives of industrial companies (conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) 75% say different business functions (R&D, engineering, production, marketing, operations and sales) are competing against each other instead of collaborating on digitisation efforts.

As companies continue to grapple with adoption and implementation of digital technologies, Accenture suggests they may lose sight of cross-functional collaboration. But, according to the report so-called ‘Champions’ recognise it as fundamental to their business.

“We have uncovered a group of companies that have solved the collaboration conundrum - that work across functional lines to innovate, stay relevant, and drive profitable growth,” commented Accenture.

The report asked that with Champions investing over a third of their revenues into digital projects, was their higher revenue growth profitable? “We examined actual EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) numbers and found that Champions enjoyed 27% EBIT growth during the 2017-19 period, while the rest only achieved a 2.1% growth.”

The five key behaviours which set ‘Champions’ apart include:

  • Clarify to function leaders “what” the digital transformation means and why everyone should collaborate
  • Hold executives accountable for how well they collaborate across the organisation
  • Prioritise projects that generate value for the broader organisation and that stimulate collaboration between functions
  • Invest in and rapidly scale platforms that empower continuous collaboration and that will solve the problem of island isolation
  • Establish clear rules for their Information Technology and Operating Technology, and how the two work together.

According to Accenture, to overcome common collaboration challenges and to harmonise digitisation efforts across functions, companies should also focus on the following five key actions that Champions take.

  1. Plan the work and work plan

Be specific, prescriptive, and clear about the vision and mission for your digital transformation.

It’s crucial to plan a specific, multi-phase digital transformation strategy and disseminate widely to everyone involved. It’s also imperative to develop an execution plan for seeing through every step of the transformation.

  1. Find the key people and empower them

Assign ownership and responsibility around cross-functional collaboration.

A total of 82% of Champions have one C-suite executive who drives digital transformation and is responsible for its success in each function. Having the same person increases the chances of success.

  1. Pick projects that bring people together

Prioritise digital projects that stimulate cross-functional collaboration.

Champions know where and how to allocate capital. They do it by prioritising projects that require cross-functional collaboration, which then get funded and executed across the organisation.

  1. Make sure solutions speak the same language

Ensure that all your digital solutions and platforms are interoperable.

Champions know how to harmonise different tech platforms in the cloud, ensuring that they work together seamlessly toward mutual outcomes. 

  1. Create rules for the road

Build smart IT-OT governance policies from the get-go.

Cross-functional collaboration works best when teams are equipped with the technology and expertise to gather, deliver and analyse data in ways that unlock the best insights.

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Jun 20, 2021

5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Healthy Workplace Culture

5 min
As the world embraces Men’s Health Week, five experts advise how leaders can create a healthy workplace culture for employees

This week (14th-20th June 2021) is Men’s Health Week. Physical and mental well-being have been important considerations for leaders over the past year, and it is essential this focus is maintained as we build back for the future. Here we have asked 5 experts for practical tips leaders can implement to create healthy workplace cultures.


Know the early signs of burnout 

Recently it was reported by the BBC that burnout for health and social care staff had reached emergency levels. 

Monkey Puzzle Training Co-Founder Karen Meager has studied the burnout recovery process in partnership with Coventry University: “The past year has seen people suffer from job-loss worries, work from home challenges, isolation, and feeling overworked. These are continuing, and all have the potential to contribute towards burnout. Healthcare workers, executives, leaders, managers and small business owners will continue to be the top people to suffer from extreme burnout.”

“At the onset of burnout, people commonly enter a phase of denial. So leaders need to be aware of those who are reluctant to take their time off, are compelled to work all hours, or have changes in their behaviour or mood, as these can all be indications of burnout taking hold. Encouraging them to take a burnout self-test provides a starting point to supporting these employees through recovery, as is role modelling healthy sustainable ways of working.Karen suggests.


Encourage professional self-reflection 

Creating an environment that encourages self-reflection is an effective tool for promoting personal development. Journaling may not be something you instantly think of for professional development; however, it is a successful technique for adults to aid mindfulness and productivity. “Journaling is a form of self-expression that can empower you to understand your feelings and ambitions and how to deal with them, therefore promoting positive well-being and a healthy workplace culture,” describes Elisa Nardi, founder of Notebook Mentor


Just 15-20 minutes of journaling a day over the course of four months are enough to lessen the impact of physical stressors on your health,” explains Elisa. “It can also inspire creativity, aid your memory, and help set actionable goals. It is an underused tool that can help employees manage tricky workplace situations such as conflict, illness or new leadership roles.


Manage your stress and resilience too

As a leader or manager, often, your complete focus is on the business or protecting your team, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Leaders should also have strategies in place to manage their own stress, so they can sustain high levels of positive energy throughout the day. “Fueled by a burning desire for success, I ignored all the warning signs of exhaustion, which eventually took its toll on me - I literally collapsed from stress, and I didn’t even see it coming.” reflects Sascha Heinemann, an expert in Performance Recovery and Stress Resilience.


“When leaders manage their energy, create healthy daily habits, and practice resilience, they are able to perform to their fullest capacity and to provide the best possible support for others.” 


“Taking a break every 90 minutes or so helps you to refuel, recharge, and re-energize and ultimately allows you to get more accomplished, in less time, at a higher level of quality, and more sustainably. This role model contributes dramatically to a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workplace culture," he adds.


Instil a sense of purpose for your team

The idea that success equals working 12-15 hour days and giving everything of yourself to your workplace continues to prevail in many organisations. This is not healthy, nor is it productive for anyone involved. “The healthiest and happiest workplace cultures are the ones that are organised around purpose.” describes business and life coach Anand Kulkarni. 


“Leaders should be giving meaning to the work they are doing within their business and beyond and sharing this purpose with their staff, rather than focusing on long hours, crippling workloads or someone else’s idea of ‘success’. When people understand why they are doing what they do and how this contributes to something greater, productivity and well-being is increased.” adds Anand. 


Promote well-being from the top down

Leaders need to act as role models if well-being is to become embedded at the very core of the organisation. It’s very unlikely that employees will start acting in a new way that puts their own needs first if the leadership team continues to behave in an entirely different manner.


‘Many organisations have worked hard in recent months to put new policies in place that better support well-being, promote hybrid working and attempt to set clear boundaries, but many leaders seem to assume that they are exempt from it all, that’s when it all falls over’, explains leadership experts Martin Boroson and Carmel Moore, from The One Moment Company. 


A recent ONS report into Homeworking in the UK revealed that people are on average working 6 hours extra per week, and many are working until late in the evening, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever. 


Despite all of these wonderful opportunities for people to self-organise, if the leadership team continues to work in the office Monday to Friday, or are communicating at all hours, then it’s a clear indicator that hybrid working is simply a ‘bolt-on’ tactic rather than an integral part of the company’s approach to promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.’

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