JANICE MACLENNAN | June 30, 2022
In developing or evolving a strategy, there are key decision moments. Those are the moments where you are deciding where you need to focus, what you need to excel at to win there, and where and how to allocate resources to get to a point in the future.
At these moments, it is the contest of ideas that matters. Having choices matters. Having a cross-functional team participating in the development of strategy is one way of ensuring that you are going to be more successful at generating choices before you start making choices.
What Is a Cross-functional Team?
A cross-functional team is a collection of individuals with varied skillsets from different areas of a business collaborating to achieve a common goal.
Why Are Cross-functional Teams Essential for Business Success?
Having this diverse set of minds analysing the situation, considering the big picture and the organisation’s capabilities, and the needs of all stakeholders, inspires teams to think about the choices they have differently and more creatively. For example, in a pharmaceutical setting, the medical affairs team brings knowledge of the data, unmet needs, and insight into clinical practice. Access and reimbursement teams identify the right data and take the lead in building that value story to accelerate market access and product uptake. It is incumbent upon commercial to hear their ideas, obtain their perspective and secure their alignment to all strategy decisions.
Cross-functional collaboration can help break down silos. Research suggests that working in silos and not sharing data with team members from other departments can cost a company close to $8,000 per day in wasteful expenses. Time is widely recognised as a scarce resource: we need quick access to accurate and real-time insights to make effective business decisions. Real time insight will come from those closest to the customer, so it is important for cross-functional members from different geographies to participate in the development of strategy. Improved insight is a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
One single version of the truth is what is required for the right narrative to take place. The right narrative will lead to the right decisions. One single version of the truth is more easily achieved by cross-functional team members working closely together.
Better Innovation & Creativity:
Individuals with diverse skillsets often explore a problem in different ways. When different people working in different capacities come together, they think outside the box to significantly improve outcomes. It is a great way to come up with concepts that distinguish companies from their competitors.
Achieving alignment with strategy across functions and geographies:
Today, businesses are moving faster than ever and organisations are seeing possible competitors in areas they never knew existed before. With so much choice about where to focus, you really want your workforce to align around one strategy. Underperformance is inevitable if everybody is off working in ten different directions.
Improving the customer experience:
Creating an effective customer experience is about more than just ensuring your customers receive the products and services they desire in a timely and efficient manner. It’s also about creating touchpoints with real people who can organically evangelise and grow your brand through their social media and offline interactions with friends and family.
Your customers are engaging with multiple communication channels– official websites, social platforms, virtual platforms, medical science liaisons, sales reps, and more. Everyone needs to be aware of, and understand, the moments that matter to your customer and the business along that customer journey and how they contribute to delivering that positive experience.
This is more likely to be achieved with a cross-functional approach to strategy development.
Cross-functional teams are typically small, adaptable, and flexible. Such teams can move faster as they don’t have to wait and rely on other departments or external sources. They can help in tackling any silo mentality and bridge gaps between team members. They can come together to consider new information and/or changes to adapt the strategy if necessary and/or react to any setbacks immediately. They are better placed to make decisions when problem-solving amidst uncertainty.
In summary, the rapidly changing environment and new information requires medical affairs, along with access and reimbursement and commercial, to work together, to ensure that patient’s benefit from the value of new innovative therapies. Companies stand a better chance of creating a winning strategy if it is created by a cross-functional and geographically diverse team. With every team member bringing their abilities and knowledge to the table, the strategy over time can only move from strength to strength. However, if not supported correctly, a cross-functional team working on strategy can be dysfunctional and chaotic, and result in a laborious and time-consuming approach to strategy development.
Digital strategy platforms such as Nmblr offer an inclusive and structured process to facilitate a strategy discussion and allow people to bring forward ideas. They do this by: working against silos – the structure provided, levels the playing field. The guidance provided equips people from different disciplines to contribute to the conversation.