HomeSearchSite MapDecision GuideHelp
*Cross-Functional Teams
*WhatWhenHowRelated StrategiesExamplesMore InfoOther Strategies
* What It Is.
A Cross-Functional Team is composed of people with varied levels of skills and experience brought together to accomplish a task. These teams may use Action Learning as a process to solve problems. As the name implies, Cross-Functional Team members come from different organizational units. Cross-Functional Teams may be permanent or ad hoc.

Back to the Top

* When To Use It.
* To solve a problem that impacts on multiple parts of the organization.
* To improve a work process that crosses organizational lines.
* To coordinate ongoing processes or activities that cross organizational boundaries.
* To accomplish tasks that require a breadth and depth of knowledge, skills, and experience.

Back to the Top

* *
* Select team members who have the optimal mix of skills and expertise.
* Clarify the objectives and outcomes of the team.
* Identify the roles and responsibilities of team members.
* Use the knowledge of the entire team to determine strategies and solutions to accomplish objectives.
* Determine timelines and actions to accomplish objectives.
* Provide team members with access to training in teamwork skills such as communicating, listening, and facilitating.
* Periodically evaluate the functioning of the team.

Back to the Top

* Relationship To Other Learning Strategies.
As described below, learning strategies are often used in combination with one another or may be closely linked to one another.

Action Learning: Action Learning is a process for problem solving that involves people with varied levels of skills and experience. Cross-Functional Teams may use the Action Learning process. As the name implies, Cross-Functional Team members come from different organizational units. In contrast, an Action Learning group may be comprised of members from a single organizational unit. Cross-Functional Teams may be permanent or ad hoc, whereas Action Learning groups are always ad hoc.

Work-Outs: Work-Outs, like Cross-Functional Teams, are composed of people with varied levels of skills and experience. Work-Outs are accelerated meetings where participants are attempting to effect rapid and far-reaching change. Cross-Functional Teams, however, are generally more project- and task-oriented and may exist for a longer period of time than a group conducting a Work-Out.

Back to the Top

* Examples.
Department of Education

A Chartered Awards and Incentives Team was established to develop options for a new departmental awards and incentives program. The team worked together for 1 year and consisted of 11 members from various departmental offices. All members shared equally in the team's responsibilities and leadership roles. A facilitator helped support the team's efforts.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The Human Resource Technology group in the IRS created a Cross-Functional Team to plan all the human factors involved in a change to a new information system. Individuals with expertise in job analysis, organizational development, change management, training, facilities, ergonomics, and industrial psychology comprised the team. The combined expertise and shared learning resulted in an enhanced planning process and results.

Inova Health System

One of the largest health care systems in Northern Virginia used a Cross-Functional Team to plan and implement a move to a start-up operation in another hospital. The move included the transfer of many patients. The team was composed of individuals from major clinical departments, administrative services, ambulatory and emergency room services, and facilities. Because the team was composed of professionals from across the hospital, "downtime" was minimized. The move occurred in the morning and by mid-afternoon, Inova were fully operational.

Food and Drug Administration, Office of Regulatory Affairs

The Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) in the Food and Drug Administration has an Organizational Development (OD) Team consisting of a cross-section of managers and line and staff employees from headquarters and field offices. Two of the team members are full-time OD specialists, while the others spend 10 to 75 percent on organizational development as a collateral duty. The team trained together and regularly meets via distance conferencing [insert link to the distance conferencing strategy page] to share experiences, expertise, and knowledge. ORA managers may request the OD Team to help plan organizational changes including assess readiness for change, clarifying organizational vision, and implementing change strategies. The OD Team members work together whenever possible to deliver services. The client organization must fund materials and travel, but otherwise the team's services are free. Most of the part-time team members have been involved in at least two projects per year.

British Petroleum (BP)

Since discovering oil and gas in the Andrew field in the North Sea in 1974, British Petroleum (BP) had been working in vain on developing it economically. A team composed of people from a wide range of disciplines from both inside and outside BP's North Sea group was formed. This team began to broaden its thinking and reconsider every aspect of the problem. Instead of looking only at technology for the solution, they looked at BP's relationship with its contractors. This "alliance" approach resulted in the project's coming in $116 million below estimated cost and being completed more that 6 months ahead of schedule.

Back to the Top

* Where To Go For More Information.
Web Resources

U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Online Performance Management Technical Assistance Center, Team Resources

Center for the Study of Work Teams

Ideas on Teams and Teamwork Online Article


The Team Handbook. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Management, January 1997.

Scholtes, P. R. The Team Handbook. Madison, WI: Joiner Associates, 1988.

Back to the Top

* Other Organizational Learning Stategies.
Following are links to the other Organizational Learning Strategies:
* Meetings
* Action Learning
* Work-Outs
* Strategic Planning
* Parallel Learning Structures
* Corporate Scorecard
* Benchmarking
* Groupware
* Distance Conferencing

Back to the Top