Cross-Functional Collaboration

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Cross-functional collaboration. By: Parker, Glenn M., Training & Development, 10559760, Oct94, Vol. 48, Issue 10 Database:
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CROSS-FUNCTIONAL COLLABORATION

Contents

1. The diversity of cross-functional teams can both benefit and hinder team performance. Here are some tips for getting the best from these new-styled teams. 2. The benefits
3. Making it work
in this article Cross-Functional Teams, Team Building
The diversity of cross-functional teams can both benefit and hinder team performance. Here are some tips for getting the best from these new-styled teams. The world and the world of business are changing. Specialization is out; generalism is in. Rigid ownership of work is out; fluid collaboration is in. Power is out; empowerment is in. Individualism is out; teamwork is in. Vertical hierarchical structures are being replaced by all kinds of organizations: network, adaptive, informal, and horizontal. Right in the middle of them all sit cross-functional teams of experts ready to move quickly and flexibly to adapt to changing organizational needs. Such teams are made up of people from different departments in an organization. They typically perform different job functions and bring a variety of skills and experience to their teams. Survey results, books, conferences, and observation tell us that cross-functional teams have become important in today's competitive business environment. It's exciting and sometimes frustrating that these new-styled teams are made up of people who come together, each carrying the baggage of past working relationships. Some team members haven't met before their first team meeting. They are virtually strangers. The design engineer from the Detroit plant may never have talked with the dealer from Pennsylvania who sells the cars she designs. The marketing professional may never have run into the government-affairs attorney, even though both work in the same office. Some team members may be colleagues who have worked together on past projects--a situation that gives rise to at least two possibilities. If the purchasing and manufacturing managers on a team agree on customers' needs, the managers' past association can help jump-start the team. But if the managers are old enemies in a turf war, the team may begin with a conflict that needs resolving. In other words, past associations can bode well for teamwork, but not always. The diversity within cross-functional teams creates a whole new culture. A team made up of six engineers who report to one engineering manager may work together more easily, but a cross-functional team is more likely to exemplify the axiom, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." A group of allies, strangers, and even enemies can weave a cross-functional design that is a patchwork of the members' different cultures. But it takes more than just putting together a diverse group of people. In practice, it requires the migration from a parochial view of the world--in which one's own function, values, and goals are paramount--to a culture that says, "We're all in this together." Success is team success; rewards are team rewards. And if the team fails, everyone shares the responsibility. Here are some guidelines for managers who are responsible for team development and for leaders of cross-functional teams: • Insist on clear team goals and plans for achieving them. • Work hard to gain the commitment of team members and other stakeholders to achieve team goals. • Emphasize collaborative efforts and shared team rewards. • Provide training that focuses on working with a diverse group of people. • Create policies and procedures that support a team-based environment. The benefits

Cross-functional teams are characterized by these factors:
• Speed. Cross-functional teams tend to accomplish tasks quickly--especially in the area of product development--because they utilize...
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