maciej łebkowski
Maciej Łebkowski

Interdisciplinary teams

in Professional

Here’s a crazy thought: why won’t we stop building single discipline teams?

Teams and organizational hierarchy are the main things that dictate how we work, how we communicate, and how our goals are determined. There is also the second face of that coin: it is where we draw lines and build barriers.

Professionals are naturally drawn to two things: people doing a similar job (same discipline), and those who want to achieve the same goals. Why would we reduce those two motivations to one?

Here’s how it works now, in my experience, most of the time: teams silo themselves teams: engineering, product, marketing, HR, what have you. And then, try to overcome barriers in working together towards the same goal. You hear from right to left: how to make the product people understand the need to reduce technical debt? What to do to efficiently work with HR? How can we make engineers more aware of the business context?

Put them all in one room (or zoom call, if you fancy). No more HR, Product and Engineering teams. You now have Product Alpha and Product Beta teams, all interdisciplinary, each under a single leader, working towards a common goal. There will be no artificial barriers to overcome!

They will still improve their skills, share knowledge, and improve processes across multiple teams, with people doing the same craft because that is what people are naturally drawn to (building guilds, if you will). But their primary allegiance is to the business team. What you currently understand as department goals are not what brings revenue for your company, this is not the end goal, just a means to an end. I dare to say, it’s pathological in some cases.

The way ahead of us is long and winding, but we already made the first step: we tore down the silos and now our product team consists of product owners, software engineers, a designer, a training expert, a customer success specialist, a marketing person, an hr partner, a telecommunication specialist, and more — every discipline we need to build a successful business. The next step is to break free from the grip of the organizational hierarchy and unite under a single leader.

To use the MVP cake analogy: cut across the layers to have some delicious experience from every slice!

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About the author

My name is Maciej Łebkowski. I’m a full stack software engineer, a writer, a leader, and I play board games in my spare time. I’m currently in charge of the technical side of a new project called Docplanner Phone.

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