Interdisciplinary teams consist of employees with different competencies and experience, who seek to achieve the same goal. Each is an independent entity that completes its project without engaging other departments. What do you need to bear in mind to make your interdisciplinary team efficient? Read this short guide.
What is the purpose of forming interdisciplinary teams?
In short – they are formed to increase the sense of responsibility for the process, productiveness, decisiveness and reaction speed. When one designated group of specialists handles the process, the efficiency increases significantly. The team members may hold various positions and work at the office or remotely, sharing their competencies and experiences. The team does not wait for other departments in the organization to complete their tasks, which allows it to be effective.
What does an interdisciplinary team need to be efficient?
The most important conditions for the interdisciplinary team to be efficient include: flat organization, constant online communication and regular brainstorming. These aspects not only allow to solve problems more effectively, but also help come up with bolder and more innovative solutions. Obviously, the support of senior leaders is also necessary. If the company culture hasn’t included such teams so far, a lot of effort needs to be put into getting the management board and maybe even the company owners acquainted with the idea of interdisciplinarity. Without doing so, success might be hard to achieve.
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How to start?
Each of the team members needs to get acquainted with useful working methodologies, such as Agile, Lean and Kanban. It would be the best if some members already had experience with those methodologies and could explain them to others. In the team, there is no manager position understood in the usual sense, but the role of the leader is essential. It would be perfect if they had already led such an entity and knew the obstacles that might be encountered during the transformation. Starting with a training project and then assessing it meticulously seems to be a good idea since it would allow to identify areas for improvement that are typical for a specific team.
Attitudes and resources
The members need to have competencies and experiences that complement one another, but mutual trust and sincere communication are the most crucial. Interdisciplinary cooperation requires full synchronization and what could support it more than working together in a shared office space? To facilitate cooperation and store resources safely, the most efficient groups work together in one space because it guarantees effective communication.
– Every day I watch the work of interdisciplinary teams that rent our serviced offices in Warsaw. I guess the most important thing is to think outside the box and support other team members. You can improve your competencies your entire life, but you will overcome obstacles and help others only by being open-minded and kind. Of course, the room has to be comfortable enough to allow the group to work there efficiently all day long. It has to be properly equipped and have access to office devices and facilities – explains Marta Kamińska from Solutions. Rent.
“Hard” and “soft” communication
There is no way interdisciplinary teams could function without continuous communication, which should be as effective and specific as possible. This is exactly why Kanban and Agile methodologies involve standing briefings and progress reporting at the time specified in advance. “Hard communication”, i.e. communication of facts, figures and particulars, is crucial, but the “soft”, informal communication is of great importance as well. It allows to integrate the group consisting of members whose personalities may differ significantly. It also emphasizes the need to inform each other about achievements, even about minor ones.
Sincerity and willingness to learn
One of the most important matters for interdisciplinary teams is being able to own up mistakes. Learning from mistakes without criticizing the ones who made them is crucial for self-improvement. Changes that the members have to address quickly, modifying the solutions on the spot, are also the source of knowledge.
To sum up, interdisciplinary teams work effectively if they are properly formed, supported by the management and led by an experienced leader. It should be also considered if it is really necessary to strictly follow the rules of one methodology or the other. The key to select the most appropriate one is… interdisciplinarity.