Launching a product and consistently maintaining its demand in the market is never as easy as it seems to be. Various departments from an organization slog and work hand in hand for months to bring out one product that suits your needs as a consumer. During this process, arguments and tensions between two departments are bound to happen. The two departments which are always in an argument are the engineering and legal department.
While the engineering department is more experimental in adapting new things, the legal department is old school and loves to stick by its rules. The tussle between the two departments sours when the engineering department wants to explore new avenues, and the legal department does not want a paper trail.
Is there a solution to this problem?
Let us find out.
Before we get to the problem’s solution, let us find out what basic issues create a conflict between these two major departments of an organization.
What kind of tensions prevail between Engineering and Legal?
A product development program is a complex process that continues even after the product’s launch in the market. While the success of any product is always celebrated, the flaws in the product need to be examined. This is where lies the rub.
While examining failure, the engineering department wants to explore the depth of the cause of the failure, and the legal team wants to avoid any footprints being left behind. This is because the legal team wants to avoid any legal complications that will damage the company’s image in the future.
What happens now?
Let us understand this with an example of the Boeing 737 crash.
The Boeing 737 crash
The Boeing 737 Max flight crashed in 2019 and 2020, respectively. It killed 346 people and cost Boeing $2.5 million to get through the settlements. During the internal investigation, the legal team pressured the engineering department to recharacterize certain terms.
The engineering department exploring the cause of the crash was told to recharacterize certain terms like ‘explosion’ to ‘spontaneous self-disassembly’ and change the word ‘fire’ to ‘thermal event’ to avoid legal complications. According to legal experts, such impact and intensity always hamper the reputation of any organization. Therefore, to reduce this impact, the investigation team or the engineering department is asked to make changes and recharacterize certain terms.
Can such incidents be avoided?
An open discussion with a think outside the box approach will avoid such incidents. However, these moves and decisions have to be made by the organization’s leaders at the right time to avoid any damage. Such decisions are taken after a series of discussions and a solution-centric approach.
Most of the time, the C-suite of the organizations avoids discussing the negative consequences or avoid exploring various aspects of a product. Therefore, talking help and many disastrous consequences can be avoided.
How can this tension between the two departments be fixed?
Talking of Extremes
This involves talking of the extremes, which includes the success of any product and its flaws. You have to go beyond the conventional methods of communication in the boardroom to avoid any negative impact on the reputation of the organization.
This is the legal aspect of a company. However, the engineering department wants to explore and experiment. To avoid any legal complications, it is always advisable to discuss the plans with the legal as well, other than the members of the C Suites.
The legal team can then assist with proper documentation and can ask to make changes accordingly. The key to success is striking a balance between the legal and engineering departments who are extremes in their working and put a lot at stake. Good coordination between the two will result in a better outcome and improved decision-making. This may avoid certain pitfalls for any organization.
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