Interdepartmental Collaboration

So collaboration within our dev team has bought us less waste, smarter developers and more fun. But what about outside our dev team? Isn’t there an opportunity for these benefits to spread?

Requests for help outside our day-to-day development usually come via email. Now I’m not a big fan of emails. I sit and stare at them wondering what useful information I can glean. To make matters worse the problems have often been around the houses by the time it gets to development and there is a long chain of discussion.

This has happened because it’s often not easy to work out who really knows how to fix a problem. I find the best strategy in this situation is to jump on Skype and chat to the person who originally reported the issue and start all over again pulling on other people as required, it may be a bit disruptive but problems can be solved in minutes rather than days reducing work in progress and allowing everyone to get on with more productive work.

I guess this is a form of Swarming. Swarming is a term used in Kanban where the whole team attempts to solve a blocking issue quickly to keep the tasks flowing. Although it may appear disruptive in my experience it is often worth it. If you haven’t got anything to offer drop out of the swarm. The difference here is the people in the swarm aren’t on the same team or even the same department and don’t usually have the chance to collaborate.

The earlier we deal with these blockers the better. Perhaps if we had regular cross departmental collaboration we could eliminate many of these tricky issues altogether. A standup where a representative from each department could quickly describe what they are working on and any impediments they face could trigger collaboration that could save many painful hours of work.

And what about the side effects of all this collaboration? Shared learning and understanding? New ideas and creativity? Less disparity between what the customer wants and the developers build? An end to departmental silos? What do you think?

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