Enterprises are increasingly turning to Agile methods for their ability to help adroitly meet rapidly changing customer needs and expectations. Whether internal or external customers, Agile helps the business focus on continuous improvement that grows the quality of products, services, and other outcomes. By providing a framework for teams to rapidly adjust, the business gets products to market faster and grows customer satisfaction as it meets customer needs in a timely fashion. Yet, successful outcomes require motivated Agile cross-functional teams. Today, we’ll share our insights for identifying ideal team member characteristics that will help ensure Agile teams succeed.
What is a Cross-Functional Team in Agile?
The uninitiated might envision a cross-functional team as individuals from different disciplines who come together to create a team. However, within an Agile framework, cross-functional teams are generally comprised of people who possess multiple skills and in working together are able to accomplish a variety of tasks within a given time period.
We like to look for “T-shaped people” within our teams. T-shaped people have breadth across a number of disciplines while having deeper skills within an area or two. While our teams are comprised of T-shaped individuals, we do have specialists join our teams from time to time, depending upon the project at hand. For example, we are currently working on a project with an Elasticsearch specialist. In these instances, the team needs to recognize that they’ll be limited to specific outcomes in a given sprint. Mike Cohn has additional insights here on aligning specialists within multi-skilled teammates.