Common sense makes us think that certain competencies are desirable in certain groups performing certain activities.

We expect developers to be innovative and efficient. Marketers to be creative and eloquent. Sales people to be persuasive and personable. In spite of this typecasting, I would argue that the most memorable moments I experienced were when I witnessed development teams eloquently describe their innovations, marketers perfecting their campaigns through incremental iterations, and sales people closing deals creatively and efficiently.

Although this all seems pretty obvious, we seem incapable of formally supporting the development of these competencies in these different groups. We continue to encourage people to develop within their lanes, rarely, and inconsistently at best, exploring laterally the skills that could make them more competitive within their areas of expertise.

Then, why don’t we practice what we know is better? One possible answer is that we’ve grown accustomed to rely on specialized groups to play their roles. To want to avoid tripping on other’s turf. To prevent looking ignorant for asking what we think others may consider dumb questions. Regardless of the reason, leaders need not only encourage people to continuously expand their skill sets within their competencies, but they also need to set the stage for people to exercise curiosity and get comfortable exploring across units. We want innovation, efficiency and creativity, problem-solving and superior decision-making to permeate the entire organization.