I hear about, and have seen for myself, that there are challenges to get product and development teams involved in the analyst team’s work. And the other way around.
Since we’re heavily dependent on each other to succeed with our work, it’s important to do something about it. The principle “Go See” is one thing I’ve had good experience with, when it comes to increasing collaboration between different teams or parts of an organization.
“Go See” (genchi genbutsu) is a principle from the Toyota Production System. It’s kind of the same thing as “walking a mile in someone else's shoes”. It’s a great way to cross borders, understand each other, and open doors for communication.
It means to go to “the place where the actual work is done”. For a bus driver, it’s the bus. For a marketer it’s their desk and their laptop. For a factory worker: the factory floor. I have learned it’s easy to apply “Go see” in any conditions when you want to foster collaboration.
So when I, as an analyst, scrum master or whatever role I may have, need to come closer to a certain part of an organization, I invite myself, and my team, for a study visit at their “factory floor”. I’ve done this for years. In all kinds of organizations. I have always been welcome.
One of many examples was when I was working with a pre-study for a traffic operations system: I was to establish and prioritize the backlog. So I called the traffic control team in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Oslo and asked if I could join them for a couple of days. All of them said yes.
I went up really early in the morning (3.30 am!), and sat next to them while they were managing bus incidents, traffic information, fast rescheduling of drivers etc. Just in a few days, I learned a lot about what they needed, their main challenges and what they didn’t want at all. Last but not least: I made new friends in the organization. People I could call for questions, tests, showing prototypes, getting information... and they knew who to call regarding this initiative.
Here’s a picture from the traffic operations in Oslo, from one of my study visits.
They were very happy that someone “from IT” cared about their actual job. Enough to go start working at 4 am. If you’d go as an analyst or data scientist for a study visit at the product managers desk, the marketer or spend a day working with the product dev team, I can assure you that the reaction would most likely be the same.
Another example that comes to my mind is from Expressen, a large Swedish news publication. When I was a product owner at Expressen.se, we had some digital analysts working with us. The environment was pretty stressful, but I knew that our product dev team needed to really understand the numbers of conversion and retention. And that it was important that the analysts knew and understood some of our work in the dev team.
So one of the first days at work I invited myself to the analysts’ desk. “Can I spend half a day with you?” I asked. Of course he said yes.
After that half day, we became work friends in a way no meeting could have accomplished. I could understand his challenges. I learned a lot about how A/B-tests worked, and what the conversion numbers meant, and the real logic behind their heat maps. He, in turn, got some insight into my teams’ challenges and special conditions. We could now work together much more easily.
At that point, I took the initiative as a product lead. It doesn’t matter who takes the initiative. I have brought developers several times, designers and analysts. Recently, when I was in a tech analyst team as an intern, I could easily see opportunities to just invite myself to the market researchers, the prodops team, the devops... whoever. Just reach out a hand and show some curiosity.
Do you want better collaboration with someone in your organization?
Do you want some insight into the product team’s, or other team’s work?
Do you wish the product or other teams around you had more understanding for your work?
Invite yourself for a study visit.
So far, during 20 years of work with software, marketing, sales, ops and customer service teams I haven’t got a “no”, not even once.
Some reading about Toyota Way:
Read also my post about collaboration between analyst & product teams:
1: Demo your data
3: Chat culture