75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional

Mar 31, 2023 Insight Operations

In modern organizations, cross-functional teams are a standard practice that involves bringing together members from diverse corporate teams, departments, and even external companies.

However, despite their prevalence, many of them are dysfunctional, says Behnam Tabrizi, best-selling author and faculty member at Stanford University’s Department of Management Science and Engineering.

In a study of 95 teams across 25 leading corporations, Tabrizi found that nearly 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional, failing at least three out of five criteria for organizational success:

  • Meeting a planned budget
  • Staying on schedule
  • Adhering to specifications
  • Meeting customer expectations
  • Maintaining alignment with the company’s corporate goals.

And, the root cause? Tabrizi explains, 

Teams are hurt by unclear governance, by a lack of accountability, by goals that lack specificity, and by organizations’ failure to prioritize the success of cross-functional projects.

As a result, Tabrizi suggests 3 key corrective actions.

Increase transparency and accountability

According to Tabrizi, it is essential for every cross-functional team to have a designated decision-maker who is held accountable for the team's success. In addition, this team leader must be empowered with the authority to override any conflicting objectives from individual team members. Otherwise, the team's objectives will always be overshadowed by the competing goals of its members.

Bridge data silos

Collaborating in a cross-function team can be challenging due to the use of disparate tools among team members and the absence of a seamless data flow between systems. This issue becomes even more pronounced when team members come from different companies, because data exchange often devolves into manually emailing files and spreadsheets back-and-forth. That's why cross-functional teams must be equipped with the right tools and systems that can bridge these gaps.

Eliminate digital friction

Leveraging Gartner's definition, Tabrizi explains,

Digital friction is the the unnecessary effort exerted by employees in using technology for work.

And, as Gartner discovered from a survey of over 5,000 employees and more than 100 CIOs, 94% of employees encounter digital friction when trying to do their jobs.

Employees want more standardization and automation to eliminate all these headwinds, Tabrizi observes. That’s why leaders must pay close attention to how these teams operate and equip them with tools to excel.

If you don't have platform that can manage and accelerate your processes across teams, departments, or even companies, it's time to start thinking about implementing a multi-party workflow orchestration system like Pipelineapp.io.

Contact Us Learn how Pipeline is helping other businesses work smarter and grow faster without the hard work.

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