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An ArtsProfessional feature in partnership with Ticketsolve banner

Teams can fall into working in isolation, rather than together for a common purpose, in organisations of any size. Nick Stevenson suggests processes and tools to help avoid this happening.

A photo of a talk by Ticketsolve

It is easy for teams to fall into silos, each working with an absolute focus on their given area within their own department. But it’s clear that isolated teams don’t work as well as integrated ones, so how we can we make working lives easier and encourage better internal communication?

Data is never going to replace people but it can help them do their job better

Arts teams work hard, giving 100% of their time, energy and dedication each week because they are passionate about their work. That dedication comes at a price. They are famous (or perhaps infamous) for wearing many different hats, and that can lead to busy days and nights where suddenly you find your team isn’t communicating sufficiently with other teams. It isn’t all that surprising that silos develop even in small organisations – we are human after all, and human beings are nothing if not tribal. Add misaligned goals and maybe some friction and you can see how silos can develop quickly. 

Siloed teams are the death of productivity, innovation, and creativity. They can even have an impact on morale, regardless of the size of the organisation. Isolated teams don’t benefit anyone – not the organisation, not its audiences and certainly not people working in the arts.

Data, along with other tried and tested methods, can help to integrate silos and cultivate better communication internally, that can then create better engagement with audiences. The ability for teams to cross-pollinate, collaborate and share ideas can kick-start creativity and drive organisations forward. 

Data is never going to replace people, but it can help them do their job better. 

Improving internal communication

Here are six ways to use data to improve internal communication.

1. Share organisational goals and objectives

It is natural to want to give data a wide berth. But using your data for upselling and cross-selling, membership and friends schemes, fundraising, marketing, social media and finance can help formulate a vision for your organisation. Data used in this way can help quell misgivings and bring everyone together through a shared ambition. Getting everyone on the same page should be priority number one when dismantling your silos.

Data is not replacing common sense. It is just acting as a foundation to get you started on creating organisational goals based on what is really going on with audiences and the organisation as a whole. Think of data as a torch, shining a light on what needs to be focused on. 

2. Set team goals and objectives

Once you have the organisational goals in place, each team can begin to create their own team goals - again using data where appropriate. These goals should tie into the broader organisational objectives and be integrated with other team goals and objectives. Whether you have teams of one or two people or 15, this approach helps to clarify where you are going across all areas of your organisation. 

3. Connect face to face

Weekly audience development meetings with all teams generate enthusiasm across the organisation and build morale, while ensuring communication across teams. You might also consider short bi-weekly check-ins to see how campaigns are going. These meetings should be quick updates to ensure everyone is pointed in the same direction. Be open to ideas and innovation from anywhere and make your motto ‘fail fast’. Allow your teams to bounce ideas off each other, share information and get creative. No idea needs to be perfect – failing fast allows creativity to flourish and teams to explore ideas they might be reluctant to otherwise. 

4. Identify one source of truth 

When you use data-driven thinking as the basis for integrating teams, data informs every decision. There is a data reason behind every action that creates a sense of confidence across teams. Data is the one source of truth across all teams.

5. Encourage visibility and transparency

Another great way to support integrated teams is to use automation and tools where necessary. Cross-communication across departments can lead to administrative overheads, but with automated reports teams can be updated as frequently as necessary, ensuring a high level of transparency across the organisation.

6. Use tools for better communication

Unifying your teams also means using communication tools to facilitate cross-pollination and communication. These include cross-team communication tools such as Slack and project management tools such as Trello and Basecamp - as well as many more that open up lines of communication and foster better visibility across projects and teams. 

Trust the process

Change is not easy, no matter your specific area or the size of your organisation. And changes that stick take time. Don’t expect instantaneous results, but do trust the process. These changes will most definitely unify and strengthen cross-functional teams – and some will work better for you than others. There are no hard and fast rules. Do what works for your organisation and drop what doesn’t. Your teams will thank you for it. 

Nick Stevenson is UK Business and Marketing Executive at Ticketsolve.

This article, sponsored and contributed by Ticketsolve, is part of a series looking at the power of box office data to inform strategic decision-making.

We’ve put together some additional resources to offer more detailed insights and further reading. This includes how data has the ability to cultivate better internal communication, how to embed data-driven thinking, the best approach to take when tackling your dataestablishing best box office practices through data
and getting ROI from everything that you do.

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Photo of Nick Stevenson