One of the unrecognized and undervalued contributions of a leader may be her contribution to manage the whitespace. Whitespace refers to the gap between organization structure where the roles and responsibilities may not be clear. It also covers the dependencies, collaborations, and communication across teams required for a quality output. But these may not be institutionalized as a process. A user training or technical documentation team can gain valuable insight by observing user acceptance testing (UAT). They may observe the user’s struggle to understand metrics in a new dashboard. But the organization’s design and process may not mandate participation of training teams in UAT. As a leader you can facilitate this collaboration. This can result in a feature to improve user experience, e.g., a tooltip to explain the metric.
As a leader one needs to look out for such whitespaces and opportunities for collaboration. These connections and collaborations are essential for the quality and outcome of a program and to avoid failures. As most teams are working remotely and across locations, unless a conscious effort is made to bridge the whitespace, we risk moving towards a disconnected and siloed organization. Here are some tips to manage the whitespaces,
1. Managing by walking around:
When teams are collocated in an office a leader can walk around. She can have informal conversations and uncover any bottlenecks and get a pulse on team motivation and collaboration. A similar approach can be adapted for remote working. You can leverage slack, teams or other collaboration to randomly ping and have a chat with your team.
2. Effective kick-offs:
Kick-starting a new project and initiative in a completely remote working mode can be a bit of a challenge. More focused effort is required to uncover all key stakeholders. Few one-on-one sessions with sponsors and key stakeholders may be required to understand their expectations and get their buy-in.
3. Incubation of new projects and initiatives:
The initial few weeks of a project and initiative will require close monitoring and mentoring to ensure required connections are established across teams.
4. Learning and sharing sessions:
A casual lunch-n-learn session is important for a team to learn and to innovate. It is even more important in a remote working environment.
5. Peer to Peer connects:
As the opportunity for ice cooler chats decreases, other avenues may need to be enabled to foster informal connections. Human connection is a key element to provide a sense of belonging.
6. Collaboration tools:
Tools like wikis, blogs, slack, and others can improve information flow and help teams to share updates on progress and achievements.
Won’t you agree establishing fruitful connections across team boundaries is crucial now more than ever? Do you want to share any tips and learnings for effective team collaboration?