Birds of the Same Feather Don’t Flock Together

Birds of the Same Feather Don’t Flock Together

February 4, 2016

Mr. Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of Robi on Cross Functional Collaboration

In a traditional organization, major departments made up of Finance, Human Resources, and Marketing/Sales, work separately in a silo approach with little to no work interaction among them. This often leads to a segmented organization with differing and even competing goals, thus hindering the business from reaching its optimal potential.

The Cross Functional Summit held in the capital’s BICC, in January this year, aimed to address the issue of lack of collaboration among departments in an organization and propose multiple ways to increase teamwork and ensure sustainable growth. The summit brought key professionals, academicians and practitioners from multiple disciplines including Finance, Human Resources and Marketing/ Sales. The dialogue held in the one-day summit on 16 January, gave light to numerous issues faced by a traditional large firm and laid out approaches to tackle them through collaborative solutions.

Mr. Mahtab Uddin Ahmed FCMA, Chief Operating Officer, Robi Axiata Limited was one of the respected speakers for the summit. Mr. Ahmed is a renowned Finance Strategist with strong hold on market development, launching new product, creating brand equity and devising winning business strategy. His sharp Finance and Marketing edge together with Productivity Management, distinguishes him as a quality business leader.

He began his summit keynote by pointing out that collaboration was the main objective of the summit. Based on this objective, his presentation was an informative session covering all important issues related to collaboration. Excerpts from his insightful words are following.

Need for Collaboration

In putting forward the reasons on why collaboration is important, Mr. Mahtab explained the importance of self-awareness, scale, creative application, and long-term view. “Birds of the same feather don’t flock together,” he  pointed out the underlying problem in organizations, “Finance has nothing to do with marketing, and vice versa”. According to Mr. Mahtab, trust was the key issue, that because the way of presenting differed among the functions, there was not enough trust. The tone and attitude of interaction, as he mentioned, often hampers collaboration. Differing objectives in the functions is what fuels this mistrust – finance seeks to increase shareholder’s value, marketing\sales aims to increase revenue and brand equity. Altogether, there is no culture of trust and collaboration, but a culture of conflict.

Read Also: Syed Gousul Alam Shaon on Creativity, Advertising & Inspiration

Conflict – Good or Bad for an Organization?

Mr. Mahtab then explained the three levels of conflicts at the organizational, group and individual level. In the words of Hans F. Hansen, “either people inspire you or drain you – pick them wisely,” quoted Mr. Mahtab, “if you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like going to the office, the organization you are working for has some serious problem”.

He then explained the assertiveness – cooperativeness continuum with the help of a diagram. Assertiveness was marked by the resolve that “if I believe in something, I have to go for it,” on the contrary, cooperativeness was marked by “other’s opinions matter”. Too much assertiveness driven by passion, Mr. Mahtab explained, is a common phenomenon among employees in an organization. “Assertiveness without cooperativeness is deadly,” he explained. Middle ground is also not an ideal solution. “Other side has a better idea, better solution,” he explained saying how important it is to take heed of others’ opinions.

Read Also: Robi Axiata Ltd: An Epitome of Business Transformation to Success

The next issue covered by Mr. Mahtab was how to manage conflict for positive results. According to Mr. Mahtab, conflict can be driven in a positive way which can increase value for the organization. It may seem that low conflict in an organization is a positive sign, however it may rather be a critical sign of playing safe which may hamper productivity. “When someone is not complaining about anything, he is avoiding conflict,” Mr. Mahtab explained with an example.

Roles fixed by Human Resources, often create conflict of priorities. While aims may differ –  Human Resources for employee engagement, Finance for control and Marketing for brand equity – objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) should align and be consistent. Citing examples from different Financial debacles like that of Enron and Lehman Brothers, Human Resource challenges like long payback period for investment in talent management, and from Marketing point of view of making hefty investment in brand building, all contribute to lack of understanding among the functions as one does not understand the others’ reasoning behind huge investments of the said departments.

Culture of Trust

“Everything will go wrong if we don’t manage it well,” explained Mr. Mahtab, “trust is the core to improve collaboration”. Referring to the critical time he joined Robi, he explained that instilling trust in the organization culture was his first mission. “If you can improve your culture, the results will show,” Mr. Mahtab explained by citing Robi’s success over the years in numbers.

Keeping up with Transformation

“Is this summit about resolution of current issues or future issues,” asked Mr. Mahtab. Everything is transforming at a fast pace, and 10 to 20 years down the line, everything will be different. It is vital for businesses to keep track of these trends, to maintain perpetual competitive advantage. Some of the transformations pointed out by Mr. Mahtab were virtual culture, no physical currency, mobile credit cards, no physical tickets, and brain controlled computing.

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