Successful Digital Experience Strategy Takes Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration


Cross-disciplinary collaboration supports successful and scalable DX strategy. PHOTO: Kaique Rocha

Digital experience (DX) initiatives are complex, multifaceted and require expertise across many areas of the organization.

Since digital content is consumed across multiple channels and in multiple contexts, technology teams, designers, marketers and lines of business all have their hands in the mix.

Many DX Perspectives

Each area of expertise has a unique perspective of users’ expectations and frustrations. The way engineers, content strategists, UX designers, marketers and product teams deconstruct a problem and approach a solution is slightly different, but each perspective brings distinctive value.

This is why cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential to building a successful and scalable DX strategy. So why is it so difficult to prioritize and initiate cross-disciplinary collaboration? It starts with culture.

DX Requires Cultural Change

Cross-disciplinary collaboration begins with the organizational DNA. Before any meaningful digital transformation can begin, the organization’s leaders must inspire and motivate employees to step out of their silos and work together towards a common goal.

If there isn’t executive alignment around the common goal, then any expectation of teams building a cohesive product that doesn’t feel fragmented is simply unrealistic.

When people operate in silos and look for perspectives only within their teams or area of expertise, they create an echo chamber that limits their perspective.

Leaders can incubate cross-discipline sharing of perspectives (not only across teams but management tiers) through workshops, co-design sessions, alignment activities and creating shared metrics of success.

This will break down organizational silos that would eventually result in a disjointed digital experience for customers.

If teams aren’t aligned from the beginning, expensive and time-consuming problems arise in the long run. Operational inefficiencies can derail a project before it’s even begun.

(Learn more about the strategies and technologies that lead to exceptional digital experiences at CMSWire’s DX Summit in Chicago next week. Find out more here.)

DX Requires Design Thinking

A collaborative culture that embraces design thinking centers teams on the customer and a shared problem statement. Design thinking isn’t just limited to those in design or product development roles, nor is it just about how an experience “looks.”

Tim Brown, President of IDEO, describes design thinking as, “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

In the process of building a digital product, it’s common for teams to focus solely on the task in front of them, such as the requirements for a feature. The challenge is that often we lose sight of the problem we’re solving and become attached to our own vision.

Reframing our mindset so we’re looking at ideas within the context of the holistic customer journey aligns teams around the same view of the user and helps people separate reality from their own preferences.

The designer mindset of focusing on what’s best for the end user and incrementally testing hypotheses to continuously learn is an attitude that can be applied to all areas of the business.

DX Requires Distributing Control

Distributing control is often confused with the act of delegating. They’re not one in the same. Delegating consists of managing individual tasks, whereas distributing control requires leaders to put aside their own inherent biases, which is considerably more challenging.

Shelving a personal view of what’s the most “right” allows for collaboration from teams that’s open and productive.

No single viewpoint can ever have all the information about users, which is why no single person should be solely responsible for the success of the final product.

Creating a shared metric of success across multi-disciplinary teams helps loosen the grip of control by any one individual and pulls teams together to work toward a common goal.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration helps teams untangle complex problems, enables innovation, maximizes individual impact, eliminates silos and allows all team members to share ownership of both successes and failures. It’s not easy to invite others into an established process or area of expertise, but it’s necessary to deliver a cohesive experience.

Through cross-discipline workshops, open dialogue and a shared vision backed by success metrics, teams can come together to deliver a seamless digital experience that delights users, cultivates engagement and achieves business goals.

As director of digital strategy at PointSource, a mobile development firm, Cait Vlastakis Smith helps organizations understand and embrace the evolving mindsets, behaviors and habits of their customers. She’s an advocate for design as a business discipline and believes success comes from “outside-in” thinking.


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