When more energy is spent on winning internal battles than on solving external challenges in the marketplace, your company has a problem. When, deliberately or not, information is hoarded and resources are competed for, the resulting conflict stifles innovation and the organization (and the customer!) suffer.

These are all evidence that well-intentioned boundaries have become ill-omened barriers to success. Boundaries aren’t necessarily harmful. They can provide structure to complex operations, clarify decision rights and accountability, and consolidate areas of expertise. But, in practice, they can become barriers to our accomplishing the strategies and goals that are critical to our success.

Actually, boundaries are rarely the problem. Rather, our thinking about those boundaries—the mindset and subsequent behaviors we adopt—make us believe the problem is a boundary problem. As Albert Einstein once said, “We are boxed in by the boundary conditions of our thinking.”

The solution lies in actively managing changes in corporate—not just individual—behaviors. Here are 5 you can try:

1) Aligning to a common vision and strategy. Paint a bigger picture to help leaders and employees feel more connected to the whole.

2) Creating a transparent work environment. Publish goals (and progress towards those goals) from across the organization, capture regular feedback from colleagues outside of your own team, and use common platforms throughout the organization for data collection and management

3) Engaging in Give/Get sessions. Share expectations and offer feedback regarding what each group is getting from each other and giving to each other

4) Utilizing cross-organization project teams. Create cross-boundary teams to address larger and more complex projects that require or would benefit from coordination and broader expertise.

5) Recognizing leaders and employees for cross-teaming. Develop ways to celebrate the accomplishments of cross-boundary team work, such as recognizing and rewarding those teams that develop innovative ideas or identify cost saving initiatives.

For a more in-depth look at boundaries and barriers, read the latest addition to the Denison TRANSFORM article series, “Boundaries or Barriers?” from Bryan Adkins, CEO of Denison Consulting.

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