Process Improvement Tip #8: Create cross functional teams

In the lead up to PEX Masters next month, we’re running a series of process improvement tips to help you jump start your initiatives for 2013.

In agriculture, a silo is a tall cylindrical building used to store grain. In business, a silo has come to be used as a symbol of an inability to work efficiently across the business units and divisions that compose our organizations.

Just as the grain silos in agriculture stand alone with no transfer of grain between them, business units or departments sometimes have minimal contact and understanding of what’s happening elsewhere in the organization.

The trouble is, that unlike agricultural silos where grain has no need to interact, processes and information must pass between business units and departments. Our business units actually need to work together to help the business deliver on its goals.

This is where duplication of effort, errors and inefficiency can build up.

When you’re pulling together your process improvement teams, make sure you have representatives from every function that the process touches. While you might feel that a team of consultants or in-house process excellence specialist might be quicker solving the problem, if you don’t involve key staff you’ll have greater problems with adoption down the line. Also, you might miss an obvious point that those "in the process" might easily identify.