There are often complaints that technology isolates people, but anyone working in IT may have a different opinion.
If anything, IT is being asked to work more and more with other departments, rather it’s marketing, customer experience or business strategy.
While all that interaction is necessary if businesses are going to fulfill their goals of digitally transforming their organizations, it’s not always a process that goes smoothly.
Namely, teams and individuals who have different backgrounds, skills – even nationalities and genders – can find it difficult to work together. Any attempts at finding common ground can be quickly defeated as those involved become more emotionally entrenched in their positions.
Is there a solution beyond a leader simply ordering people from IT to work with other teams and hoping for the best?
Yes, but it’s not always easy and organizations have to commit to a consistent strategy, says Daniel Shapiro, founder and director the Harvard International Negotiation Program.
Shapiro, who has spent 20 years studying the causes of human conflict, says that many times collaboration and cooperation fail because individuals and leaders don’t understand what’s coming into play when there is a conflict.
For example, in his new book, “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable,” Shapiro explains that the “tribes effect,” is when emotion and identity arise in a conflict, forcing individuals to consider who they are, what they deem important and the meaning of their life. Once they feel threatened, they can become so attached to their “tribe” that they’ll do anything to defend it.
So, IT may feel threatened by those outside the department if someone says technology is unhelpful or off base – or techies aren’t good at communications or understanding the customer experience. That causes IT workers to become less cooperative with the colleagues who are critical of them, no matter what idea is expressed.
The tribes effect spurs you to make a blanket devaluation of the other’s perspective simply because it is theirs,” he says.
While the tribes effect tries to protect your “identity” from harm, it usually backfires. You pull in psychologically and become more focused on your own short-term interest over any long-term (read more here)