Tradeoff between cross-functional business teams and specialist teams

Pro cross-functional business teams
  • no handovers
  • faster learning about business
  • more innovation
  • shorter development cycles
  • broaden perspectives through diversity of experiences, expertise and knowledge
  • greater sense of purpuse by working on the full (or at least greater part) of the value chain
Pro specialist teams (aka silos)
  • get work done more efficiently when it can be described precisely and handovers are cheap
  • learning from specialists in same field
  • higher consistency of outcomes within silos
  • easier agreement with people that speak the same lingo
How to remedy the short-comings of cross-functional feature teams
  • use communities of practice (CoP) for knowledge sharing amongst specialists
  • express yourself in the lingo of the addressed person when talking to a specialist in another field
  • get to a novice level of understanding in the specialist fields of your team mates (“become” T-shaped)

Photo by Robert Zunikoff

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