Maximizing Efficiency: Unlocking Potential with Cross-Functional Teams
It is no surprise for all of us working in the software development domain, but communication is key. We even came up with complete ways of working where communication is part of the way of working, like Scrum, Agile, which has all the artifacts in place to manage this.
- Design to brainstorm about the ideas, needs, and solutions
- Refinement to determine impact and way to go
- Demo/Review to show the output of the iteration and discuss the next steps coming iteration
- Retrospective to discuss what went well and what could be improved, including determining actions to do so
- Planning to determine what to pick up during the next iteration
- Daily standups
Where teams and organizations often tend to find themselves in pretty long meetings, these ways of working give a clear structure and, in the meantime, flexibility due to the short iterations.
The clear structure is focused on communication because we are not having all these sessions in place without a reason. The idea is to have a continuous alignment in the team and with the business, where e.g. the daily stand-up is not meant to check on people being awake but focuses on the progress in the sprint (iteration) towards the sprint goal. If there is an impediment to reaching the goals, we can address and solve this immediately. Next to that having the designs and refinement gives us the ability to understand the needs, and our retros allow us to learn and optimize. In the end, this is all communication.
So why does this often not result in the best and expected results? Well, multiple reasons, but having sessions planned and in place is only the first step. Often we see people simply not playing by the rules. The business does not attend the demo/review (they are too busy), refinement we do without the business (because they do not understand), daily we use to explain that the cat was sick or to change scope (but the sprint goal is no longer a goal?).
Of course, not everyone is a good communicator. We and especially the younger generations are learning more and more that communication is important, but it remains a challenge. Does this mean you can't solve this, and every IT project is a hassle? No, of course not.
This is why we work with cross-functional teams, where the T-shaped people (which means everyone has a different sweet spot) work together to make sure that technical skills, communication skills, and business sensitivity are part of the skillset. You can work with small teams, preferably you do, but make sure you add the right PO, devs/dev ops, and QA automation.
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