The Power of Cross-Functional Teams

What do the A-Team, Ocean’s Eleven and the Turtles have in common? They are autonomous cross-functional teams.


A cross-functional team is a task force consisting of people with different talents & skills.

Why is it that many of the most innovative software companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon & Spotify have started to adopt the advantages of cross-functional teams?

It’s all about speed and innovation.

Speed

Cross-functional Teams can move faster because they don’t need to wait and rely on other departments (e.g. marketing, sysops, …) or other external sources. Typically they can tackle challenges on their own, start to solve them immediately and react to bumps in the road instantly.

Being able to call their own shots and to work fairly autonomous, allows cross-functional teams to ship faster than other teams. They are especially valuable if you are looking to improve your cycle time and release on a continuous basis.

Warp Drive
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Warp_drive

Innovation & Inspiration

Working tightly with colleagues which have different backgrounds and skills helps to see the bigger picture and to think outside of the box. Compared to a department/silo organizational structure this enables autonomous bottom-up innovation.

Often in organizations structured in siloed departments an “us vs them” dynamic emerges. This kills innovation. Organizations structured around cross-functional teams on the other hand benefit from reduced overhead and increased mutual respect for all aspects of the enterprise.

Back to the Future
https://www.profilesinhistory.com/press-releases/original-screen-used-delorean-time-machine-from-back-to-the-future-iii-on-exhibition/

If your software development teams are currently structured in siloed departments instead of cross-functional teams it might be worth to re-evaluate this.

As software development becomes faster & faster and we move into a world where we can continuously release new versions of a software, it becomes really important how fast development teams can move.


If you found this post helpful you might want to follow me on twitter where I tweet about UX, Design & Product Management.

Also make sure to check out Blossom, a modern Agile/Lean Project Management Tool I’m currently working on ☺

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