The Perpetual To-Do List: Integrate

Posted by: in Thinking Creatively on February 8, 2011

You know that satisfying feeling of crossing off a big task on your to-do list?

  1. Clean out inbox: check
  2. Draft that proposal: pat on your back
  3. Integrate my work among that of my colleagues: um, what?

It seems that all kinds of organizations are so quick to throw on the integrated label. And who wouldn’t want to? Having different practices aligned with each other is something to be proud of. But to earn that title, employees at every level must actively work toward it. It’s not something that one can cross off the list and be done with.

“Actively” doesn’t necessarily mean having elaborate conferences every month. Aside from formal employee training, actively working toward integration can also be…

  • Wearing a different thinking cap: In an organization composed of silos, the caps worn by its employees are pretty boring: “I’m in the XYZ group, and that’s all I do.” In a place that is working toward integration, the caps are dynamic: “I work in XYZ, and I’m thinking about how team ABC can help me better deliver results.” Adjusting to this mindset can be difficult. But it is part of a solid foundation for building true integration.
  • Presenting projects internally: Before something goes to the client, why not share it with counterparts in another practice? Involving different perspectives and utilizing in-house resources fosters healthy discussion, which often results in a well-rounded deliverable.
  • Using an internal social network: Similar to how people check Facebook every day to see what their friends are up to, enterprise networks give employees a place online to interact and see what their colleagues are doing. It’s a company’s own news feed. I’ve seen many connections happen in our network: interest groups and small task forces are formed, live brainstorms with colleagues from five offices, and all-hands-on-deck requests for tight turnaround projects.

At WCG, one of the ways we strive for integration is through ongoing education for our team – at every level in every discipline. How do you integrate?

By: Alexis Bizares

Interactive Associate at WCG

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9 Responses

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  1. katieronanmac said

    Great first post, Alexis! Very true on all accounts. I love how the company is embracing Yammer, in particular. I think this is one step culturally toward getting employees used to the idea of sharing. QQ- Do you really clean out your Inbox every day? I’m inspired 🙂

  2. You’re right, Alexis … the toughest part about this whole “collaboration thing” – because that’s the concept you’re talking about – is changing your own mindset. Companies don’t embed “SHARE YOUR THINKING” into their cultural DNA … at least they don’t yet. But I think that the best ones will make a point of it – starting now.
    I know that’s what we want for WCG. Thanks for your thinking! We ALL need to be practicing what you’re preaching!
    😉

  3. Hey Alexis – First of all, I love that you are blogging. I think you have a lot to offer the space, and I hope we get a chance to read more of your posts.

    To the question of the post (and of the next year+) about integration, you’re right to caution against just talking about it. It’s one thing to talk about within agencies, but the second you start talking about it within companies the wall seemingly goes up. The question of 2011 is how do we bring down that wall (with apologies to Ronald Reagan’s famous quote).

    Keep on keepin on.

  4. Alexis Bizares said

    Thanks for your comments, Greg and Chuck. I think both of you are alluding to this wall concept. It’s tough! It’s new! Who on earth would want to spend extra time learning about a not-so-familiar practice? And then work together to deliver? The people who want to integrate and innovate would.

    I really believe it’s the mindset. That’s step one. To help rally the troops on this one, I think companies can look to their “integration ambassadors” to share positive outcomes of integration.

  5. Mindy said

    And as I’ve learned, sometimes the best ideas come from a walk to a colleague’s desk. Team meetings and client calls are a given, so we have to challenge ourselves to expand our “team” to include the brains of those outside our immediate sphere.

  6. Alexis Bizares said

    Katie — Thanks! And I feel the same way about Yammer at WCG. Magical things happen there. 🙂 QA – I wish!

    Mindy — EXACTLY the mindset I hoped for. And you’re right in calling it a “challenge.” It often takes the extra thought, time and energy to collaborate. But the fruits of the labor are awesome. Loved our desk-side brainstorm yesterday. 🙂

  7. Excellent post, Alexis. I think the integration process can seem like a rather overwhelming concept for some companies, but this is a great jumping off point for those who are interested and willing! Being intern and fairly new to the company, I feel like all of this hits especially close to home: I find that I’m constantly wearing different hats, so as to gain experience and hone in on my strengths and weaknesses – aka interning 🙂 I never viewed it from an integration standpoint, but I am now! I also find that being active on Yammer introduces me to other departments and team projects, case studies, etc. It also makes it possible to connect with coworkers in other offices, those of whom I wouldn’t normally engage with on a daily basis.

    Enjoyed the article, Alexis!

  8. Alexis Bizares said

    Andrea — Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your feedback about Yammer. Letting our colleagues know about the benefits of these activities will encourage them to start using it/doing it also. Yam on.

  9. Bob Blount said

    Alexis,

    What a spot on blog post! Like with many things integration takes champions to move things forward. Your blog post is an example of “taking a step” to be a voice. By doing so, your friends and followers are more likely to do the same. I know you have big plans to “invite” others to post and return on a regular basis.

    On using internal social networks – it’s so exciting to see new faces contributing to our Yammer page. For other companies that haven’t taken this step it’s a simple one and well worth the effort. Find a champion or two that will help drive engagement. Use these tools to conduct virtual brainstorms and extend the conversations for others to leverage later.

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