Not all work groups are intact teams from the same organization who share office space. Cross-organizational collaboration between clients and vendors comprise a significant portion of the teams with whom we work. These teams are usually formed for a short duration of time to complete a particular project or launch a new product. Often issues emerge as the teams encounter culture clashes, misaligned processes, and a lack of group identity.
Because there’s an end date to the team’s life cycle, the urge to just “struggle through until this is over,” is strong. However, the groups with whom we’ve worked during the initial stages have reported much smoother integration of personnel and systems, and a higher overall satisfaction level with the work they’ve done. They believe that the investment of time and energy is well worth it.
A one or two-day team retreat can go a long way toward increasing trust, developing personal relationships, and establishing operational guidelines that work for both cultures. We recommend the following sample agenda for client/vendor teams.