Solutions Café

Solutions Café

“Buy time, not expertise.
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The Big Idea

A large family owned company’s marketing division is organized into three different departments.  Each department is responsible for a different sector of the market.  Despite the fact that the products and services provided to each sector are quite similar, each department had worked quite independently from one another over the years.  The newly appointed marketing director recognized unused synergies which could be taken advantage of when the three departments openly cooperated with each other.  A key question to improve such cooperative efforts emerged:  how could these synergies be energized?  In order to address this question and identify possible solutions, the marketing division decided to ask the leading employees from each department to explore this question amongst themselves.

Who was in the room?

The top 60 people from the three marketing departments were brought together for a special 1 day meeting. After some introductory presentations, participants were placed in groups of 4 around flip charts.  This setting served as a forum to enable these small groups to formulate cross-departmental solutions as to HOW the marketing department’s goals could be achieved.

What did the planners want to achieve?

The initiators of this dialogue aimed to raise the awareness of the existing and potential synergies in the group. This awareness was needed in order to foster a sense of responsibility for making existing and potential synergies a reality.  Additionally the planners aspired to create a sense of identity for the marketing division as a whole.

Results and the impact

What are the results and the impact?

Employees from the three departments took up the challenge to build bridges across the departments.  One novel idea that was immediately implemented was “Lunch Bingo”. Every Monday, each employee placed his/her business card into a specially designated bowl.  On Monday afternoon employees could draw a card with the name of another employee from the bowl and invite them for a lunch “Let’s get to know one another” meeting during the course of the week.  This one recommendation which emerged out of the dialogue changed the nature of relationships within the division.  Another significant achievement was a new approach to sharing of knowledge around product launches.  As a result, the time required to prepare a launch was cut by 30% across the division.

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