In our most recent research, many CIOs and CDOs complained that their digital strategy has only affected the edge of the business. Digging into this, we see that one of the biggest root causes is the siloed digital team. Originally separated from the business to accelerate the pace of innovation, this bi-modal structure now produces unintended outcomes – potential new businesses that fail to tap the scale, expertise, and history of the legacy organisation.

This does not have to be. Last year, we spoke with a digital executive at a large insurance company who told us, “We banned creating new apps within our digital team because we don’t want to be in competition with our product groups.” This comment struck us as a sophisticated way to think about the role of a digital group. In this case, the core group defines the digital customer journeys and then hands the spec to the mainstream product groups who ‘manufacture’ the new business.

Indeed, your central digital team can be a powerful way to distribute a digital mindset across the organisation. But it takes re-envisioning the team’s role and remit. Lisa Welchman offers a useful re-conception of a digital team as “the full set of resources required to keep the digital process functioning.” She goes on to lay out the governance and decision-making authority of both the core and extended teams – the latter of which includes representatives from the legacy business as well as external resources.

Bringing together this extended team creates the potential for game-changing innovations. To activate the potential, you will need to define the team norms and behaviours that get the best from contributors. This week, I found two excellent tactics for creating productive extended team environments. The first offers rules of thumb for building connections as an alternative to hokey meeting icebreakers (Begone “Two truths and a lie”!). The second is a way to use anti-goals to create powerful working environments. Originally written for the individual, teams can achieve better work days and weeks by collectively identifying these anti-goals and then designing ways of working that support the opposite.

Some reading around rethinking the role of your digital team: