Looking outwards – wider world of customers, suppliers and other networks

Looking outwards

Your team is one piece in the jigsaw of your company/organisation and the wider world of customers, suppliers and other networks. What are the other parts in your team’s jigsaw? What do you need from each other? How well does your team fit in? How can you benefit from other teams? This section looks at the big picture and helps you look at relations between your team and other teams.

[visual of team as piece in jigsaw with other teams, other departments, customers, suppliers – show some of the other teams outside the organisation]

The big picture

Why bother with the big picture?
You’re busy enough with your own team, so why should you spend time getting involved with other teams? Because if you don’t bother, there are a whole lot of pitfalls your team may fall into, like duplicating the work of another team, which may in turn make it difficult for you to access resources. Looking outwards has further benefits, such as being able to access more people for creative ideas and solutions to problems. The table summarises some benefits and pitfalls.
[Table 4.1] Seeing your team as part of the big picture
¼br> Benefits if you do bother Pitfalls if you don’t bother  ¼br> · You ensure the work of your team aligns with the work of other teams and the goals of the organisation as a whole, and take action when there are problems
· Your team is more likely to have an influence on the organisation as a whole · Your team may be marginalised because your team goals have gone  ‘off track’ from the rest of the organisation
· You may duplicate work another team is doing
· You may be unable to get resources/decisions because your team does not have a favourable  ‘presence’   ¼br> · There’s help available from other teams/departments/individuals when you need it for ideas or to solve problems – this means less anxiety for your team · Your team may stagnate from always doing things the same way
· You may be unable to solve your problems on your own – leading to stress for you and your team  ¼br> · You work to be on good terms with other teams · Being treated in a hostile way by other teams  ¼br> · Overall, your team is outward looking · Overall, your team is inward looking, with the danger of generating a them-and-us attitude (this is a negative way to build team spirit) 

Sheila and her team spent two years developing a new course, which was not really in line with the organisation’s main activities. The team worked away diligently on its own producing good training materials. It was very taken aback at the end of the project when the organisation declined to promote the course. Sheila had failed to influence the decision makers or network her team, and the project and its team fizzled out. Had Sheila and her team marketed themselves within the organisation, there would likely have been a happier ending.
What links does your team need?
Given the benefits of linking with other teams and individuals, are you currently in touch with the right ones? The people you should be in touch with include:
those your team needs things from
those who need things from your team.
‘Things’ cover everything from physical goods (like brackets or carrots) through services (like advice or serving a meal) to information (like number of customer complaints or trends within your industry).
Here are some questions to help you find out who your team should be linked with.
Questions to help you identify people you receive things from and give things to. How about…
people you pass goods/services to? These are your customers in the supply chain, for example, the people you send the customer complaints to.
people you receive goods/services from? These are the people who supply you in the supply chain, for example, the people who provide you with information on sales trends.
You probably have both customers and suppliers inside and outside the organisation:
the organisation’s end customers?
teams/departments you depend on to get the work done, for example, personnel, finance, sales, etc.?
special groups, for example, quality assurance?
senior people who have an influence on decisions within the organisation?
Now do this
Identify four teams/individuals that your team has strong links with. Try to include one or two from outside your company/organisation.
For each one, how does your team benefit from the link? How do you think the other team/individual benefits?
¼br> Other teams/individuals we have links with How we benefit How they benefit  ¼br> 1    ¼br> 2    ¼br> 3    ¼br> 4   

Your idea of how other teams benefit from links with your team could be quite different from how they think they benefit, so it’s important that teams are absolutely clear what they need from each other.

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