I don’t know much about corporate culture in the past, but from what I saw, inter-departmental wars were business as usual. Marketing coming up with their ideas. Sales always overpromising stuff that the IT said can’t deliver. IT doing their own dark magic in the basement. You get the picture, right? We can say the same for (dysfunctional) communities. You fight against your sibling, but you and your sibling fight against the neighbours. And the group that fights together is bound by some feeling of togetherness. In a corporate setting, that might be a single team, or a whole department.
In these situations, it’s usually the employees that are in constant quarrels or scheming against their coworkers. This is something that is non-existent in small startups. Startups have another benefit to them, small number of employees guarantees that they know each other well. Since everyone is doing their best to keep the company afloat, every person in the company is communicating with everyone else.
The key difference in these situations is that through this communication you build empathy for the person working for another department. It’s helpful in startups that you both probably sit in the same garage. You understand that Marketing is trying to present the early version of your product in the best way possible. They feed Sales with leads which Sales then has to persuade to buy the product that IT developed. If they are all successful, then everyone can at least buy some ramen noodles that day. It’s a vicious cycle and like in all hardships, this situation brings out the best (or worst) out of people. During this process, we build many friendships and future business partnerships. Think about the Paypal Mafia and the stuff they have achieved after leaving Paypal.
Is it possible to build this communication in large companies? Of course it is, but the companies themselves have to enable people to communicate with each-other. There are situations where you do need to firewall IT from Marketing, especially for any changes going into the system. It could be a small fix, but it also might bring or degrade a part of the product because the correct procedures weren’t followed.
In the end, we are all in this together, in small companies, and big ones alike. It is easier to hide in a big company, but if you want to grow your career, you need to communicate with people. Find out what other departments are doing, through that you’ll better understand why you are doing what you are doing. Some people start with horse blinder approach, where they don’t see anything except their own work/team/department. This brings us back to the first paragraph. Even the people with the narrowest tunnel vision can lose their blinders and realise that they are not alone. We need other departments to succeed as much as they need us to do the same. If we do our best to act like human beings, everyone will get ahead.