Cross-functionality is a Secret Weapon for Product Development Teams

In my experience, cross-functional teams align people to business goals best, and so they can get to real results much faster and much easier than teams made up of a single function. They really don't seem to be that popular, so I thought I'd talk about them a bit.

Here's some common chatter across mono-functional teams:

The Engineering team:

The Testing team:

The Frontend/Mobile/Ios/Android team:

The Backend Team

The Operations Team

The Design Team

The Product Management Team

Do you see the patterns?

These teams...

So what to do instead?

Well you get these mono-functional teams because someone talking about a specialty or discipline once said something like "X is important. We should have a team for X."

My suggestion instead is simply to start saying "X is important. We should have X on every team."

This leads to a team with a bunch of different but cooperating specialties. The only thing they all have in common is their team's portion of the business' goals.

Think of it this way:

In general I've found that only a cross-functional team can make the proper trade-offs on its own, react quickly to changes in the world, and execute with minimal communication overhead. Once it has all the specialties it needs to autonomously deliver on its goals, you're set up for a whole new level of speed of execution.

I'm not saying that cross-functional teams solve all the issues above, but they make the conversations happen on-team where it's much cheaper than across teams, and the conversations are much easier because people don't have to guess each other's motives nearly as much.

It's not any easy transition either if you're currently on mono-functional teams. In my experience though, cross-functional teams can really make mono-functional teams look like like a morass of endless disagreements and easily avoidable meetings.

Tags: cross-functionality, teamwork, practices

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