Tom Peters’ incredibly practical and ingenious tip for improving cross functional working

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Silo-ed working is common complaint in many organizations and it is often cited as being both a barrier to competitiveness and a barrier to being able to deliver a connected and consistently great customer experience.

However, the challenge is that when coming up with ideas about how to break down silo-ed behavior and improve communication and collaboration across firms, many leaders and executives often default to software based solutions.

Now, many of these software solutions are great. But, what they don’t tackle is the human relationship element that sits at the heart of most great teams and well-functioning organizations.

I discussed this recently with Tom Peters, author of 18 business books and, perhaps, best known for his 1982 book: In Search of Excellence (co-authored with Robert H. Waterman Jr). However, our chat was focused on his new book: The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last, that is packed with 50 years worth of accumulated wisdom.

In it lies his simple, practical and ingenious way to solve siloed working.

Tom’s idea: lunch.

He believes that most executives would agree that many things fail or take a lot longer than expected because, as he says:

“the finance people don’t talk to the logistics people, who don’t talk to the human resources people ,who don’t talk to the purchasing people and it’s all of those interfaces between the functional specialties that slow things down.”

Therefore, he is advocating that everyone in every organization spend their lunchtime getting to know their other colleagues.

Think about it.

If we have, on average, something like 240 working days a year that translates into up to 240 opportunities to meet new people or develop new relationships in your organization every year.

Now, even if you didn’t manage to lunch with 240 different people ever year but you only managed to do lunch with 2 new people, say, every week that is still 100 more relationships that you have invested in over the course of the year.

Just imagine the impact.

Just imagine the number of new ways that you would establish to getting things done.

Tom goes further and believes that adopting such a practice firms will be able to to turn communication into ‘the number one value added differentiator of the enterprise’.

It’s a simple idea but a powerful one and one that will cost you no more than the price of a sandwich a couple of times a week. What’s not to like?

Personally, I hope that many people and their firms embrace this idea. If they do, one thing is for sure, lunch will be a lot more interesting, more social, more productive and never the same again.

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This article was originally published on Forbes here.

Thanks to wikimedia for the image.

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