“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”

Rodney King asked that in the spring of 1992 as Los Angeles suffered through riots following the acquittal of four police officers who were charged in his beating during a traffic stop.

Maybe your office isn’t that intense, but there still could be plenty of friction between the office creative and IT teams. The creatives mutter that the techies don’t care or understand what they’re trying to do. The tech geeks think the artsy types have their heads in the clouds and are just plain stupid.

That doesn’t mean they can’t all get along and work in a productive atmosphere as a team.

Let’s look at how.

First admit that each side has merit and a vital place in the scheme of things at your company.

Two solitudes? Doesn’t have to be.

The old ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ saying has stuck around because there’s merit to it. Think about what the other department has to do to accomplish their job and then see how you can make it easier for them to help you, or work with you.

Creatives can learn more about the tech side of their workplace. So when they’re having an issue with their computer, they can really detail the problem and get a better response than ‘Did you trying turning it off and on?’ Maybe take a coding class to see what goes into developing online properties and tools.

The techies can take the time to learn the steps that go into bringing a creative idea to fruition. Maybe, just for the heck of it, take a drawing class or try some creative writing.

These groups can get together for lunch and discuss common ground, see that they are all working toward the same goal even if they are traveling down different paths to get there. There is usually more than one way to reach the destination.

Those are starting points for building a team that doesn’t fight like Jaws and Quint. Here’s a map to take your team where you want it to go:

  • Commitment – Members of the team can set their personal aspirations or ideals aside as part of their commitment to ensure the group goals are achieved.
  • Trust – Team members have solid relationships with one another. They also have faith that each member of the team will honor commitments and wholly support one another while working in a predictable, consistent way.
  • Purpose – The team has been oriented to understand their roles, level, or ownership, and see how they fit into the overall strategic plan for the organization.
  • Communication – Teams that communicate well save a lot of time by handling day-to-day exchanges as well as managing conflict, making decisions, and leveraging strong relationships to get their work completed.
  • Involvement – By its nature and title, teamwork means that everyone has a role and commits to working as partners, despite differences they may have.
  • Process Orientation – Process orientation helps the team to work together. Processes can include problem-solving methods, planning techniques, meeting schedules complete with agendas and minutes, and a defined conflict resolution method.

Cats and dogs can get along. I don’t think that it’s too much to ask that we can too.