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Finding solutions: teamwork and initiative

Features | December 1, 2017 | By:

Coolthane® is an engineered membrane that withstands a broad range of chemicals and fuels with little or no deterioration of physical properties. Pictured: Coolthane protects intake for a desalination facility in Dubai, UAE. Photo: Cooley Group.

Research shows that cross-functional collaboration can improve the ability to solve complex problems, deliver higher quality products and services faster, and boost customer satisfaction. To see these kinds of results means building a team that listens to customers and works across departments to find solutions. At Cooley Group, president and CEO Dan Dwight emphasizes the importance of a collaboration in new product development that transcends individual departments.

“Organizations that operate within the traditional, functional silo mentality cannot solve business or societal problems effectively or innovate new customer solutions with the level of urgency required to win globally,” Dwight says.

Cooley has developed a Cross Functional Project (CFP) approach that recruits and deploys select employees with diverse talents to a given product development initiative or associated business issue—working toward an efficient, effective and collaborative solution. Every new product development CFP has a team owner from within Cooley’s senior leadership who is responsible for recruiting the team from across the organization, as well as analyzing the opportunities and challenges and enacting a solution—whether that is product commercialization, opportunity capture or issue resolution.

In addition to the internal cross-functional setup, the CFP team engages external collaborators such as customers, vendors, other technology companies, industry analysts and academia for their expertise.

“Collaboration through the CFP process has improved our level of innovation and marketing of new products, with more than 40 percent of annual revenue from new products,” Dwight says. The approach also allows for “a more cooperative, amiable and intellectually challenging environment for our employees and our new-product development collaboration partners.”

Holly O’Dell is a freelance writer and editor based in Joshua Tree, Calif.

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