Why are we so scared of cross functional teams?

It’s simple. Your team should have all the talent necessary to get stuff done. If your team has outside dependencies, bring them in. Make them a part of the team.

It’ll probably just be temporary, and they will probably have to split time with their current team. I get that. But it needs to happen, or else your team can’t own its own work. A team that isn’t autonomous lives at the mercy of its outside dependencies.

And yet, we’re scared to commit.

  • Splitting time sucks” we say. And it’s true; it sucks to have competing priorities. But it doesn’t suck as much as being on a team that lacks ownership.
  • “Teams need stability” we say. You can’t just add and remove people willy nilly! But a team that can’t be autonomous will never have stability.
  • “Their current team can’t afford to give up any of that person’s time” we say. But they’re going to give up that time either way, and at least this way there’s some structure around it.

The sad truth is that Conway’s Law always wins. Systems end up mirroring org charts. You can’t fight against it, so lean into it. Fiddle with the org charts to get the systems you want.

Cross functional teams require sacrifices, but they’re almost always worth it.

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