The business press easily killed a good-sized forest with all the print space that has been dedicated to the importance of cross-functional teams and communications. Yet, despite this, organizational silos exist everywhere you look. Why do these walls remain when there is universal agreement that they significantly contribute to organizational dysfunction? Obviously, as previously mentioned, the walls remain because certain stakeholders have a perceived vested interest in maintaining them.
One way to begin tearing down the walls is to eliminate physical barriers that exist between various departments. Have engineers and sales people intermixed in adjacent cubes or offices. While you are at it, throw in a person from purchasing and human resources as well. The daily communal contact will enhance cross-functional communications. Without encouragement from anyone, neighbors will begin to break bread, and perhaps drink a beer together after work.
Another, perhaps better, way to improve cross-functional communications is to encourage Natural Leaders, and individual team members, to open dialogs with all business functions required to accomplish the mission. Oftentimes line executives prevent cross-functional communication because of their own prejudices, fears, and insecurities. Learn to maneuver around these idiots and watch as the communications process improves dramatically.