We have all witnessed how quickly the wheels can fly off even the best initiative when the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is up to.

Progress, expansion of an organization’s reach and business development success are inhibited even more when each seems unaware of the other’s existence.

If you operate in an arena where cross selling represents an opportunity for expansion and growth, this is at least one of the reasons progress is often slow.

A friend tells of a former employer who consistently reminded his team to ask themselves “who else needs to know” at critical junctures in any process. Posters and Post-Its displayed throughout the workplace reminded and reinforced the approach.

In pursuit of the synergy to be gained through alignment, an organization’s focus often turn inward. Detailed internal communication strategies, newsletters, team meetings, leadership training and integration plans are implemented to tear down silos.

Progress is often slow. And painful.

Two recent publications suggest the issue might be about more than internal communication. Or, at least that the answer might encompass more than org charts, processes and intricate plans to spread the word.

A McKinsey article by Adam Grant — Givers Take All: The Hidden Dimension of Corporate Culture — suggests highly functioning organizations encourage and overtly reward employees that share, help and mentor.

“Evidence from studies led by Indiana University’s Philip Podsakoff demonstrates that the frequency with which employees help one another predicts sales revenues in pharmaceutical units and retail stores; profits, costs, and customer service in banks; creativity in consulting and engineering firms; productivity in paper mills; and revenues, operating efficiency, customer satisfaction, and performance quality in restaurants.”

In a Harvard Business Review post — When You’ve Done Enough, Do More — Mark Goulston and John Ullmen add another dimension to the conversation.

“When you find ways to help other people learn, grow, gain, avoid problems, make progress, and achieve their goals, you achieve something far more important than near-term gain. You form the basis for ongoing results, enriched relationships, and an integrity-based reputation.” 

Focus on The Client — The Key To Integration, Cross Selling and Higher Business Development Efficiency

Perfect communication is illusive.

Internal efforts with the goal of complete education and total understanding of all the offerings of an enterprise — while important and of unquestionable value — have a tough hill to climb…complete with multiple opportunities for the wheels to fly off.

By contrast, what Goulston and Ullmen have the nerve to suggest is that we cultivate an outward focus — a commitment to identify and meet needs — a do more perspective.

This perspective will change the discussion every time — whether the challenge is internal process and work flow, silo busting integration or recognizing and seizing cross selling opportunities.

And it does not require an initiative. It begins with one question: What Else Can We Do To Help?

Ask the question of team members and co-workers; the result will be a deeper understanding of the organization.

Ask the question of clients and prospects; listen to their story. The conversation may reveal countless ways your enterprise might help.

Here’s the premise: nothing will drive meaningful communication and integration more effectively than a focus on someone else. The bonus? It precipitates loyalty, stronger relationship and the coveted trusted advisor status.

When you’ve done enough, ask what else can we do to help.