One of problems teams often have is working with other teams whether they are within the same organization, or the same business. Why? Because teams use different tools in their work, and they record and use different information, and follow different processes. When the tool, information, and processes are taken out of the original context they can be difficult to understand and use.
For instance, when I told my manager about this observation, he recounted a memory he had working with a team from whom he requested a project plan; the team sent him a list of bugs from a bug tracking tool without any explanation.This was definitely not expected! First, he might not have access to the bug tracking tool. Second, there were no details about how to use the list of bug or what the bugs “mean” in terms of how they relate to a project plan or timeline.
Ultimately, this negatively affects our success as employees as it takes time and attention away from creativity at work, or work performance.
In order to contribute to our own and our colleagues’ success, we need to remember that colleagues from other teams or organizations may not understand our tools or have an account on our tools (or want one!). Our colleagues might not understand the information we send and how to use it to do their jobs.
Some Tips for Information Sharing Across Teams and Organizations
Some tips for sharing information:
- share information in an easily accessible format (e.g. export a test plan as a PDF, save the project plan as an easily imported CSV file, etc.)
- don’t assume the person has an account or wants to have an account to an online tool that you use
- provide context for the information — explain the information, how it is used, it’s importance to your team
- ask yourself if you get requests for this information frequently. If you do, it might be best stored in an easily accessible place (e.g. internal community software), updated regularly, and linked to from other communication
- ask the requester why they want the information, or how they want to use it so you can understand how to best provide it to them.
If we can take a moment to tailor the information we share to the recipient’s needs and perspective, we can have a positive impact on her effectiveness and efficiency as well as on collaboration. And then, when we ask others for help, they can have a positive impact on our work too!
Discussion: What other tips do you follow for sharing information with other teams? What are some success stories, or difficulties you have had?
Image “Knowledge sharing” (original) by Ewa Rozkosz used according to CC BY-SA 2.0.