What’s your expertise? First steps to cross-functional team collaboration.
Cross-functional teams are the essence of the Agile development process. When the team is built, the expectations are that the team members will contribute to the best of their abilities to the team success. However, the latest social studies demonstrate that experts of different disciplines are not bound to collaborate well. What is the reason? For one, there is no common ground to recognize each other expertise. The silos which exist between different sciences and crafts manifest themselves when cross-functional team is built. Many cross-functional teams become dysfunctional only because the team members don’t recognize and respect each other’s expertise.
What is the root cause of such phenomenon? According to social scientists, the reasons lay in fast pace development of each professional discipline. Every community of practice has their own body of knowledge supported by latest research in their field, develops their own lingo, cultivates their own culture, and recognizes their own authorities. Without a conscious effort to understand the specific skills of the new team members, each practitioner has a superficial understanding and little trust in other practitioners’ level of expertise. Additional steps are needed for the team members to establish “common language” when discussing their everyday tasks, discover optimal solutions and select most efficient ways to reach team goals.
The purpose of the workshop is to introduce the framework for cross-functional team collaboration that is supported by latest research in social studies. The game format is suggested in order to prevent the professionals from recycling their own biases. Through game activities and focused exercises, participants learn how to recognize the expertise of their team members and establish common jargon for better collaboration between practitioners of different disciplines.
Outline/Structure of the Workshop
- Brief overview of latest social studies in cross-functional team collaboration
- Introduction to the concepts of Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise
- Learning the collaboration with other experts through game activities
- Practicing “interactional expertise” skills
- Establishing common jargon through the concepts of Boundary Objects
- Reflection on lessons learned and “aha” moments
- Discussion on how to bring the acquired knowledge back to the workplace
Learning the practices introduced in this workshop are most valuable for teams consisting of practitioners of various disciplines, as they are prerequisite to real collaboration in cross-functional team. These concepts will also be appreciated by development teams and customers/product owners, whose expertise are in areas not directly correlated with each other.