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  • Tony Nguyen

This is not what we mean by cross functional


The common cross functional team - a team of individual specialists - and no doers.

You've all been on one.


When someone gets all excited about "agile" and tells you we need to restructure into cross functional teams. They get so caught up in the activity and forget the intent.


Common smells:


- Made up of specialists that stay in their silo's

- Lots of coordinators/managers and not many workers (poor Jose)

- Lack of accountability

- Poor work breakdown and organisation

- Lack of leadership

- Unclear goals


So rather than just building cross-functional teams - what was the intent?

If built correctly:


- They can move at pace - having all the skills needed within the team to independently deliver outcomes without dependencies on other teams/individuals. It also mitigates the competing priority/waste issues of having functional silos.

- Reduce the bus factor or key person risk as knowledge and skills are shared. T-Shaping is popular

- Can be really high performing. I've experienced some outstanding teams where the whole was much greater than the sum of the individuals.

- You break the echo chamber through diversity of thought.


If you're teams aren't solving those problems, it might be time to revisit.