When I read Eric’s post about the Harvard Business Review article on collaboration in the workplace, I was as shocked as he. I thought to myself: “That sounds so familiar, but…”
As Eric noted, we in RAFM, risk and audit are a burden on the time of others. I’ve often had discussions with colleagues in risk and audit about how to make information/data readily available without burdening specific individuals all the time and how other departments perceive the (at times continuous) requests from us. There are individuals which are universally acknowledged as key because of the information and knowledge they have. It is very easy to identify them. You ask for X and they tell you talk to Kevin, you ask for Y and they tell you talk to Kevin and then you simply go to Kevin for Z because, more likely than not, he will know. It is easier for someone in RAFM/risk/audit to identify these individuals and I will suggest that apart from easing their burden we are responsible for ensuring they are rewarded and retained as well.
From the beginning, and until this day, my constant issue at work has been data and information. And as difficult as it is for me to comprehend why a department cannot respond to seemingly simple requests, i.e. a list of rates, I am sure they wonder why I need this information (periodically, or all the time as they would say).
I propose the following:
- Companies need to ingrain the habit of documenting into the organisation. In order to achieve this on any level you have to make it easy. I am not 100% sure how that can be achieved; I would propose utilising wikis, but that means someone has to put the information in. I would propose data warehousing, but that requires maintenance as well. I would propose regular meetings with strict agendas between departments, but that is wishful thinking. I do believe you need to take a few people and make them the drivers and caretakers of this initiative. I disagree with the idea of a Chief Collaboration Officer too — everyone should be one in a perfect world — or you can designate one c-level exec to be the caretaker.
- Information, such as rates for a telco, should be readily available from one place for everyone else. The owner of the information has to be held responsible and accountable for this. It should be everyone’s responsibility in that department, not the responsibility of an intern that is only there for 6 months…
- Awareness is also key. If nobody knows why you are calling up a meeting and when they come to it you grill them for input without sharing the end goal and purpose, you will make them lose interest in the long run. What will you offer them in return? Is there something of value that your end report will offer, not only to the managers, but to everyone involved? Send the report with the proper language: “we as a company are doing this, we should do this… “
- Finally, education. The basics have to be known by everyone. If you are in a meeting on roaming fraud and most people kinda sorta know what the discussion is about then you will not get the results you want. Everyone has to be aware of what it is as well as the impact. The basics of the industry should be the foundation for all and no assumptions should be made. This can only be achieved by compulsory basic training for all employees in all departments.
There is no silver bullet to solve this problem. Nothing that involves people is solved easily. It requires continuous effort and strong leadership; both of which are rare.