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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Mar 1, 2015

Overcoming the Obstacles to Cross-Functional Decision Making: Laying the Groundwork for Collaborative Problem Solving

Abstract

Many managers today are spending more and more time working cross-functionally. For example, a recent Corporate Executive Board survey of over 20,000 employees found that 60-70% reported working in groups that involve individuals from other internal functional areas or other external stakeholders. Similarly, a Best Companies for Leadership survey, jointly sponsored by Businessweek.com and the Hay Group, found that more than 96% of managers in the top 20 performing global companies agreed with the statement, “My organization operates in a highly matrixed structure,” where one of the main goals behind matrix structures is to pull together representatives from different functional groups to make decisions. This increasing cross-functional and lateral flow of information requires a substantially different management approach designed to leverage this knowledge in order to make the best decision for the enterprise. Yet, if managers are not careful, they will unwittingly put in place several obstacles to this process which virtually ensure that the diversity of knowledge resident in these groups and teams will not be effectively utilized.

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