location_city Bengaluru schedule Feb 26th 02:30 PM - Jan 1st 12:00 AM place Esquire

The term "cross functional team" has been made popular by the Agile movement. In cross functional team, we put people with different roles to work together for a common goal/purpose.

I have seen this worked really well in many agile teams. People are no longer on silo and everyone have better understanding what each other's role is and consequently, what each other do. This leads to better self organising within the team.

However, I strongly believe we can take this concept to the new level. The concept of cross functional team should be extended to not just the team but also to the individuals within the team. Scott Ambler wrote an essay on "Generalising Specialist". The term T-shaped developer was introduced by Mary and Tom Poppendieck in her famous book "Lean Software Development". By nature, people don't like to get out of their comfort zone, hence the tendency to keep working in area that they are familiar with. When leaders can create an environment where everyone is encouraged to learn, grow and make mistakes, amazing things can happen.

In my experience leading teams, I have witnessed many transformations that enabled individuals to go beyond their traditional role, such as a manual QA assuming Scrum Master role, a BA doing deployment, a developer doing QA for a story, etc. Not only this enablement help develop the individuals to widen their horizon and skillset, it also helped the productivity of the team through better collaboration. When a team reach this stage, we no longer have problems such as "The QA has nothing to do because there are no stories to test", "The developers have nothing to do because the cannot keep up", "The deployment took longer than expected because the Ops person was not aware of the special configuration".

 
 

Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

  • Key issues observed with a team of specialists
  • Key benefits of a team with T-shaped people
  • Challenges in shaping a team of specialists to a team of T-shaped people and how we overcame those challenges
  • Q&A

Learning Outcome

  • The benefit of having T-shaped people in your team
  • How to turn your specialist to a T-shaped people
  • How to breed a culture of learning and growing

Target Audience

Iteration Managers, Scrum Masters, Team Leaders, Delivery Managers

schedule Submitted 6 years ago

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