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Culture Wars

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 11 of 12

There is a dire need for both sides to get educated on what the other experiences, through the acquisition of basic knowledge of their operations. Knowledge is power. It levels the playing field, allowing each side to receive, understand and execute the other one’s demands better.

The tools to address that gap are many. It isn’t necessary for a lab person to obtain an MBA to better understand what a marketing department is going through on a daily basis. Marketing personnel are educated on scientific concepts all the time, and it is feasible to craft similar presentations and courses for R&D.

Having people placed at the interface between those teams helps, but interaction between marketing and R&D and allowing employees to educate each other on their respective processes also breaks down barriers. Why not pair technical people with marketing people? At one time, in order to learn a foreign language, having a foreign pen pal was encouraged. Why not find a version of the pen pal to cross cultural lines in the corporation?

There is a lot to be done. And there are many ways to get it done—but one thing is for sure—good will and smart attitudes help a lot. None of the solutions you can envision will work unless there is a will to change. And again, though a lot of things happen from the bottom up, cultural change is not one of them. In a company, there has to be a clear signal from upper management that both sides of the company are valuable and that they will be supported in their efforts to work better together.

It is in the company’s best interest to foster positive initiatives and to push for a more collaborative work environment—one in which different departments learn about each other and join forces rather than compete. It is also much easier today—as people are used to form, join and enhance communities through the magic tool that is called Web 3.0.