Believe it or not, 2016 is coming to a close. Q4 is a great time to reflect on the year’s accomplishments and look forward to the coming year. What’s on your list? One goal many of us integrated communications and marketing professionals can always strive for is to continue breaking down internal silos for the betterment of our teams and companies.

Working at an agency, I am continually impressed with how efficient and resourceful my colleagues are. We constantly ask ourselves, “What is the most valuable use of my time?”

Here are three tips for breaking down silos for a more valuable time spend:

#1: Put yourself out there

Place yourself in as many conversations and meetings as possible with colleagues outside of your discipline. Do it so often that it becomes a habit. I try to teach my direct reports this as soon as they come on board; in fact, I encourage them to add it to their professional goals. A 15-minute get-to-know-you coffee with a designer, data analyst, or operations manager can go a long way in making you a smarter and more well-rounded person. It will also inevitably help you learn about other teams’ initiatives and goals, and will offer you a fresh perspective when approaching a challenging situation. Figure out what motivates your colleague. What are they driven by? What are their pet peeves? You might be surprised to learn that their goals are not always the same as yours – but that there are little things that both sides can be doing to achieve together.

#2: Identify the right people who should be involved at each step in the process

Aaron Aders, co-founder and CSO of Relevance, poses three questions you should ask yourself to make sure you’re involving the right people at the right time.

  • Whose perspectives can significantly improve the project outcome? Identify the people and teams who know what’s happening in the market to ensure that the strategy of your initiative aligns with real market dynamics; this can include making sure marketing efforts are based on sales data, and that the issues being addressed are rooted in real customer service concerns.
  • Whose buy-in will help move the project forward and ease implementation? When you find yourself at the inflection point of a project, consider whose buy-in might help move the project forward. Are there one ore two stakeholders who should be on board with the project goals from the outset? To avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen, choose these stakeholders carefully and consider the timing of when they should be brought in.
  • Who is likely to sabotage the project? You can probably imagine these people now. Turns out there are often a couple of colleagues who you can expect to have a negative reaction ahead of time, and – usually – they bring up valid points that should be addressed. Bring these people in as early as possible so that they are involved every step of the way and feel as connected to the project’s success as you do.

#3: Measurement

How do you measure your success? Consider establishing benchmark metrics at the beginning of the year that can serve as a framework for success. But don’t just do this with your team in mind. Sit down with your colleagues from other teams and ask them to share the metrics they measure themselves against; you may find that you’ll want to add a few to your list – or even replace some of yours.

How can you expect to be innovative if you’re doing the same thing day in and day out? At BrewLife and W2O Group, we believe in breaking down silos to build better teams, products, and – ultimately – value.