Find out how to reach your shared objective.
If you've ever worked in a cross-functional team – that is, a team that includes people from different departments in your organization – you'll know how much of a challenge it can be.
For instance, who should lead the group? Will everyone be motivated to meet the team's objectives? And how can people balance the needs of the team with their responsibilities in their day-to-day role?
In this article, we'll look at what a cross-functional team is, and we'll explore the challenges behind setting one up. We'll also look at strategies that will help your team succeed, right from the start.
Although we're exploring setting up cross-functional teams inside an organization, you can apply many of these strategies to working collaboratively between organizations, too.
A cross-functional team is simply a team made up of individuals from different functions or departments within an organization.
Teams like this are useful when you need to bring people with different expertise together to solve a problem, or when you want to explore a potential solution. For example, you might put together a team made up of people from finance, engineering, production, and procurement to come up with a solution to reduce the lead-time for a new product.
One approach is for team members to be "loaned" full-time to the cross-functional team, returning to their day-to-day role once their contribution has finished. Alternatively, they may work on a part-time basis, continuing with their existing responsibilities alongside their cross-functional team-work.
The most important distinction between the creation of a cross-functional team and the formation of a new department is that members of a cross-functional team maintain substantial links to their day-to-day responsibilities and to managers in their "home" department.
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