Multi-disciplinary media teams require mindset change, senior leadership support

By Luis García

Los Andes/Grupo Clarín

Mendoza, Argentina

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News media companies work every day to be faster and efficient. Creating a multi-purpose and multi-disciplinary team within a multi-cultural environment is one of their tasks.

Today there are small and large companies working in flexible, faster environments. They’ve become effective and grown in this way while continuing to transition from traditional hierarchies to faster processes and companies. There are a lot of success stories and also several unlucky experiences.

Several questions come up in this transition: How do we launch our projects faster? Do we have the right people working in these messy, chaotic processes until we reach desired outcomes? Can we adapt our corporate and individual performances to create a faster culture company?

The idea of a fast, adaptive organisation is challenging. Our companies, regardless of industry, haven’t historically been clear on which functions could be organised into multi-disciplinary teams. This is, in part, due to slow-moving, bureaucratic company structures.

Every manager and leader needs to view the whole movie and not see a singular picture. There are projects, functions, and areas that can be made into flexible processes, but there are also activities that don’t fit agile models. One of the keys to success is collaboration between the operations area and innovation team.

Lightening organisations

Flexible teams need to be able to innovate by looking for profit while also being creative and improving products, services, processes, business models, and hierarchical organisation structures. These are multi-disciplinary teams. When we find a problem, we divide the problem into modules and these multi-disciplinary teams take different approaching in prototyping, developing solutions, putting these into action, getting feedback, iterating, and so on.

Outputs are important; however, outcomes such as new products, profitability, and audience growth are the most valuable records. They are affiliated more with changing than planning. Not every area can adapt to flexible routines. We can work faster in IT, product launches, marketing, and audience studies. However, areas like purchasing, finance, and accounting have tighter processes.

Multi-disciplinary team leadership

A multi-disciplinary team works different than a command bureaucracy. Self-government is a must. Senior leaders may work as coaches within the team, advising where to change or innovate but not how.

One of the team’s assets is the easy way to work close with customers, both internal and external. Understanding the ecosystem is the way to “Darwinise” the organisation and make it capable of facing evolutionary challenges: better products expected by external customers and better processes expected by internal customers. Doing the right things less expensively with better customer experiences.

These teams have an “owner” in charge of facilitating team members’ tasks and taking care of multi-disciplinary results.

Pros and cons of lightening processes

A plan or strategy can become an ongoing process. Several senior leaders divide themselves to coach through and test different approaches to find the best way to reach goals. Sometimes it’s a bit messy, but leadership has to accept this and operate on the principles of increasing speed and effectiveness. In certain circumstances, steps must be certain to align with strategic plans focused on mid- and long-term goals.

If the leadership team doesn’t plan every detail in advance for an entire project, chaos can seep into the company’s plan. Multi-disciplinary teams usually gather data and then decide whether, when, and how to take next steps. This could cause traditional leadership teams to hesitate during certain project stages.

The challenges are clear: First, teams must figure out where to start and how fast and far to go. They must decide which functions can and should be flexible and which cannot be converted. They must also be aware of what bureaucracy will do to maintain the status quo.

Multi-disciplinary team members’ conditions

These teams must include three components: customer experience teams, people experienced with the business process, and technology system members.

Once you identify these components, then identify the responsibilities of each component member. For the customer experience teams, consider how the experience affects external and internal customers. For business process team members, examine the links between experiences and key business processes. And for technology teams, develop a technology system or customer experience level that improves the processes where the customer lives.

It is important to have the right people working in these ecosystems. If there are gaps, evolve collaborator skills or recruit new team members from the market. This could delay your outcomes.

Also, avoid assumptions such as “this is complicated,” “it will not work,” and “we always do it a certain way.” Every team member has to buy into the goal, understand the desired outcomes, and be resilient with the environment. It is essential to convert old habits or change human resources stuck in old patterns.

It’s also important to acknowledge pain points felt by staff members and external customers. A multi-disciplinary team has to be ready to begin the project once every member:

  • Focuses on a major business opportunity.
  • Knows to be responsible for certain outcomes.
  • Can work autonomously if coached by senior leaders with capable decisions, is properly resourced, and is staffed with a group of experts passionate about the opportunity.
  • Is committed to being flexible, open-minded, and determined.
  • Is capable of prototyping and implementing faster.
  • Is supported by senior executives who will help them.

Takeaways

For this to be successful, there needs to be annual planning and budgeting. Annual strategy sessions and budget plans are key tools for organization alignment. To be active in our markets, we must observe how customers change their habits and adapt our processes accordingly.

Successful flexible companies see day-to-day changes in their businesses. They must continue to develop adaptative solutions, be active in markets, and avoid crises. They must have a vision that every change is possible and learn how to do this, regardless of what it takes. And, in making step-by-step progress, keep the end goal in mind.

Talent acquisition and motivation are important. Companies need systems for acquiring new skills immediately. Human resources must adapt procedures to new working-era ecosystem. Beyond technical skills, expertise combined with collaborative team skills, enthusiasm, and passion is important. Every area of the company must be committed to performing multi-disciplinary tasks.

About Luis García

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