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What is a cross-functional team?

Definition: A cross-functional team is a group of people with various functional skills that work together on a project. This team brings together various talents, viewpoints, and experiences to handle challenges that demand an integrated approach.

Different departments, like sales, product development, marketing, finance, and operations, form cross-functional teams to increase visibility into their activities and progress by integrating responsibilities and goals. 

When teams are isolated from one another, there is no opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas or transfer of knowledge, which brings less effective solutions. The cross-functional team approach breaks through the silos of a traditional organizational structure.

Example of a cross-functional team

An example of a cross-functional team is a product development and marketing team collaborating on a new feature launch to access collective intelligence and make informed decisions. 

In this case, marketing helps develop creative strategies for digital campaigns, while product development provides technical support and knowledge for updates or new software implementations. 

The organization fosters better communication, encourages idea-sharing, and motivates transparency by bringing two disciplines together. 

Cross-functional teams ultimately build trust between coworkers and forge stronger relationships, increasing productivity and efficiency.

What are the common disadvantages of cross-functional teams?

Different departments have different approaches and perspectives on handling tasks or objectives, leading to confusion, miscommunication, and failure to meet the organization’s goals. 

What do cross-functional teams include?

They include marketing, sales, finance, development, design, operations, customer service representatives, and other stakeholders. Working together in teams results in cost savings and increased efficiency while staying competitive.

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Article FAQs

When should an organization have a cross-functional team?
Organizations need diverse viewpoints and experiences to achieve their goals, like launching a new product or optimizing the supply chain. Teams quickly discover issues and develop unique solutions from various perspectives.
Who assembles the cross-functional team?
Executive teams or senior management assemble cross-functional teams. The best case is for leaders to focus on forming teams of people with diverse backgrounds and expertise who think critically about problems from different angles.

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