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The Bigger Picture: The Challenges and Opportunities of Cross-Company Collaborations

The Challenges and Opportunities of Cross-Company Collaborations
The Bigger Picture: The Challenges and Opportunities of Cross-Company Collaborations
Cross-company collaborations provide plenty of opportunities, but they also come with challenges. Use this guide to maximize the potential of collaboration.
Posted in: Collaboration
The Challenges and Opportunities of Cross-Company Collaborations
The Bigger Picture: The Challenges and Opportunities of Cross-Company Collaborations

There are numerous different ways to go about managing the communication lines between employees, and most of the time, the right one will depend on the size, scale, and industry of the company in question. But there's one approach that stands out among the crowd.

Cross-company collaborations are becoming increasingly popular for companies around the world that want to establish deeper, more lateral lines of communication within the business

But this collaboration style can be difficult to achieve and only works under the right circumstances.

In this article, we'll unpack the unique challenges and opportunities of cross-company collaboration and find out what you need to make it work. 

What Are Cross-Company Collaborations? 

What Are Cross-Company Collaborations

First things first: let's establish exactly what cross-company collaboration is.

Cross-company collaboration is a communication strategy in which multiple departments, employees, and factions of a business work together in order to achieve a common goal.

Usually, departments focus on their area of expertise and perform independently as a contribution to the company they work for. 

But with cross-company collaborations, the lines between divisions are dropped, thus allowing teams to combine their skills as one.

Here are a few examples o cross-company collaboration:

  • Apple and Nike - Apple and Nike collaborated to create the Apple Watch Nike+, a smartwatch designed specifically for runners. The collaboration combined Apple's technology with Nike's expertise in athletic footwear and apparel.
  • Google and NASA - Google and NASA partnered on the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, where they work together to explore the potential of quantum computing. This collaboration allows researchers from both organizations to share knowledge and resources.
  • Microsoft and Adobe  - Microsoft and Adobe joined forces to integrate their respective software platforms, Azure and Creative Cloud. This collaboration enables users to seamlessly access Adobe's creative tools within Microsoft's cloud infrastructure.
  • Starbucks and Spotify - Starbucks and Spotify teamed up to create a unique music experience for Starbucks customers. Through this collaboration, Starbucks customers can discover and influence the playlist played in stores using the Starbucks app.
  • Toyota and Panasonic - Toyota and Panasonic collaborated to develop and produce batteries for electric vehicles (EVs). By combining Toyota's expertise in EVs with Panasonic's battery technology, they aim to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles worldwide.
  • Samsung and Oculus - Samsung partnered with Oculus, a virtual reality (VR) company, to develop the Samsung Gear VR headset. This collaboration brought together Samsung's display technology with Oculus' VR expertise to create an immersive VR experience for Samsung smartphone users.
  • IBM and Walmart - IBM and Walmart collaborated to improve the transparency and efficiency of the food supply chain using blockchain technology. The collaboration aimed to enhance food safety by tracking the origin and movement of products from farm to store shelves.
  • Uber and Spotify - Uber integrated Spotify's music streaming service into its app, allowing riders to play their favorite music during their Uber rides. This collaboration enhanced the overall customer experience by offering personalized entertainment options.
  • SpaceX and NASA - SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, collaborated with NASA to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft. This partnership marked a significant milestone in commercial space travel.
  • Ford and Rivian - Ford and Rivian entered into a strategic partnership to develop an all-electric vehicle for Ford using Rivian's platform. This collaboration enables Ford to expand its electric vehicle lineup and leverage Rivian's expertise in electric vehicle technology.

Collaborations like these often combine the strengths and expertise of different companies to create innovative products, improve services, or address complex challenges.

The idea behind cross-company collaboration is that it creates both structural and creative alignment within the organization and facilitates better communication skills. 

The Challenges Of Cross-Company Collaborations 

The Challenges Of Cross-Company Collaborations

As you can imagine, there are a few challenges that tend to come along with this collaboration strategy. 

Many employees prefer working within their designated divisions, and alleviating some of those structural boundaries can give way to various difficulties, such as:

  • Poor communication – Most departments have their own microcultures and ways of speaking. So naturally, putting everyone on the same project can lead to some communication issues.
  • Misaligned priorities across departments – Even when employees are given the same objective or goal, they are still likely to want to prioritize their own role over others.
  • Lack of trust – If you've been in one department for many years, you probably trust your co-workers more than the people a floor above you. Lack of trust can lead to friction and an atmosphere of exclusivity within the workplace.
  • Resistance to new strategies – People can be stubborn. If you try to implement a new system without enough warning or training, you could be met with some resistance.

It's normal for employees to experience growing pains when being exposed to a new way of collaborating at work. It's also normal for the adjustment process to take a bit of time. Preparing for these challenges can help you monitor those adjustments with better foresight and patience. 

The Opportunities Of Cross-Company Collaborations 

As complicated as cross-company collaborations can be to pull off, the advantages are undeniable. 

Approached in the right way, it can produce powerful effects, such as:

  • More engaged, motivated employees – While cross-company collaboration can feel slightly chaotic at first, employees often come out on the other end feeling refreshed and exhilarated by the communication dynamics they develop.
  • Sparks innovation and creativity – Teams are stronger and more creative when they work together. A cross-section of skills and departments creates a much more exciting and broad-scoping environment from which to come up with fresh new ideas.
  • Enhances communication skills – The best way to learn a new language is to throw yourself into the deep end of a foreign city, and the best way to improve communication is similar. In this strategy, employees have no choice but to develop better communication skills and learn how to cooperate more efficiently.
  • Builds company alignment and team spirit – When a large group of employees share a common goal, it can help unify them and spark necessary team spirit.

Bringing people together across multiple teams allows employees to learn from each other and hone skills they never thought they'd encounter. It also contributes to brand alignment, stronger company values, and a more purpose-driven work environment, all of which are advantages. 

Cross-Company Collaboration Best Practices 

So, how does a company pull off this potential-packed strategy without creating conflict? There are a few different practices to try. 

Some of the best ones are:

  • Embrace intranet communication - If you are going to implement a cross-company collaboration strategy, providing the right tools for communication is crucial. Using internal communication resources such as an intranet can help your teams collaborate in a more centralized and efficient way. Intranets facilitate faster, more secure real-time communication within organizations so they're ideal for sharing information quickly.This makes them the go-to choice for everything from onboarding to seasonal workers to making company-wide announcements and encouraging new and long-term existing employees to communicate.
  • Host regular inter-departmental meetings - If you're going to successfully implement a cross-company collaboration system, regular meetings are essential (both in-person and online). Not only does real-time communication make dialogue easier to follow, but it also helps foster a sense of internal community and collaboration that employees need in order to function at their best. Make sure to create space for employees to connect and engage on a frequent basis.
  • Unify with purpose and company values - Company values can bring a sense of alignment to an organization and help employees find more purpose and satisfaction in their work. Both of these things are fundamental to optimized collaboration and business success.

In order to achieve maximum cross-departmental cohesion, remind employees of the "why" behind their work and your business. 

While they may have gone through an employee handbook during onboarding, now is a good time to remind them of the values your company lives by and its mission statement. 

Use these principles to guide employees and drive collaborative projects to ignite motivation and inspire symbiotic growth. 

Wrapping Up And Moving Forward

Cross-company collaboration is a dynamic and exciting way of achieving organizational goals.

By creating an environment that requires different divisions to work together, you can promote a more innovative, creative, and productive work environment.

But just like any collaboration strategy, this one has its pros and cons. Providing the right tools and resources for navigating inter-departmental collaborations is key. With this guide, you and your cohort can find your groove and move forward as a team, one step at a time. 

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Sunday, 14 April 2024
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