What has been your greatest success story in breaking down the "us versus them" culture that often exists between technology and other business functions?

3.5k views58 Upvotes32 Comments

Highly Qualified Expert in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees
We used a concept called "working out loud" to communicate and collaborate with the business.  This effort of communication with intent allowed us to engage more often.  We became closer over time and in our first year of executing this program saved 15m in low hanging fruit.  I wrote about this a few times in LinkedIn and other places.  Our process continued to work and later was citied in a few books about knowledge management.  Working with people hand in hand is key on common ground.
Senior Director of Engineering in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
What I saw work really well was shared goals / KPIs. :)
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Spending a lot of time on business relationships - developing, cultivating and reinforcing them all the time. That’s worked well for me in my current role and company. 
IT Director in Education, 51 - 200 employees
For me, success comes from being a visible presence.  I reach out to Senior Managers, Directors, and VPs of other business functions and ask to be invited to their meetings.  I generally sit back as a fly on the wall, but I learn what struggles outside of IT the teams are facing, then come to them offline with IT solutions that can help.  By showing I'm there to help their team succeed, they are more open to including me in more, and there isn't as much trash talk between departments.
3 2 Replies
Senior Manager - IT Governance in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees

I like this...definitely going to give it a try

Director of IT in Education, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

Excellent, an effective way in gaining trust and helping the business to carry out their mission and achieve their objectives and goals.

CTO in Healthcare and Biotech, 11 - 50 employees
We pushed forward the creation and use of OKRs rather than KPIs. With it, we changed the culture of “us” to “we” in the company as a whole.
1 1 Reply
Senior Manager - IT Governance in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees

Interesting point. I'm about to design a whole lot of measures...this perspective would come in handy

CIO in Government, 10,001+ employees
The solution for this is Product Teams.  Gartner has helped us define what these cross functional teams consist of, starting with the Product Owner, with a joint team including a developer, system admin, BA, PM, architect, and security analyst. The two pizza rule means the team needs to be small enough to feed with two pizza pies.  The product team "owns" the service and starts to work together as a cohesive self-directing entity.
1 Reply
Senior Manager - IT Governance in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees

This sounds like something workable if you have a larger construct, which may be a challenge in smaller orgs (pretty much all of NZ). I'll give this a think though...could be workable if constructed correctly

CIO in Telecommunication, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
It's about building trust over time.  I've worked in a number of places where the IT leadership left a minefield behind that I had to clear.  I agree with many of the answers below.  Be visible; Over-communicate, Be reliable and trustworthy; Keep your promises and commitments; Be great at project management; Deliver; Be a business person first, and IT second; Understand the business.  It takes time. It's all the basic's of leadership that we've been documenting for decades.  We all know what to do, it's the doing part that's the challenge.
Director of Enablement, 501 - 1,000 employees
I joined a start-up in Product Management, being responsible for both organisational Knowledge and Customer/employee/partner training

Now as you might be thinking, this is a fractious environment with multiple different personas and agendas, and indeed it was - to begin with.

Engineering didn’t want to share, Sales wanted to be their own island, Support wanted to left alone and Customer Success weren’t being successful. So something had to be done

I started by approaching different units across the business with olive branches. “Let’s grab a coffee, and tell me how I can help you” type situations. Over time, they got to see me as a trusted advisor, and as a giver. I became the cross-functional conduit to link items together.

I then started trying to do it with other people.

Little things like scheduling some 1:1 time between a Product Manager and a Sales Engineer to chat (every SE and PM have their ‘assignments’ for the quarter) - this has worked out fantastically.

My biggest success story isn’t a project, an incentive or an implementation. It’s a facilitation between business units to just be more human.

Everyone wants something, but we also have a lot to give. Sharing is caring after all
1 Reply
Senior Manager - IT Governance in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees

Couldn't agree more...have personally been making great effort since starting my role a month ago to have informal catch-ups with folks within and outside of the IT department construct. Glad to see my instincts regarding the personal touch has proven successful elsewhere

Senior Director, Information Technology in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Modify team structure - business users are part of the technology team and the business users are part of the technology team.   This greatly improves communication, understanding and empathy between technology and business teams.
Chief Information Security Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I would say post remote work, the culture of US vs them grows at different levels. Most people are not leveraging the US

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Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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