It’s reasonable to expect teams to collaborate, but human nature leads people to manage their own “slice of the pie”. Management needs to take a hard look at the real message being conveyed across the organization about getting things done. The question can be boiled down to: Is success measured by realized strategic outcomes or is it about not being singled out as the reason for failure? Too often, senior management assumes that groups are working toward a common goal while at the tactical level, sub-groups are playing hot potato with their unique deliverables. Being accountable is often about not getting caught holding up the larger project versus being accountable to the overall success of the project, whatever it takes.
When’s the last time you heard this from another team? “We’re not going to make our deadline and we know this will affect your deliverables. Is there anything we can do to help?” You won’t hear this because, one, it’s an admission of failure, two, groups don’t understand the direct dependencies of their actions on others, and three, teams interpret success based on meeting their own deadlines, not others’.
Transforming team silos such as this, starts with making it explicitly clear that what is expected is a commitment to the overall goal versus sub team success. No one wins if everyone doesn’t win.