Multi-talented teams – the development of digital services calls for seamless cooperation

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The future lies in multi-talented teams. A multi-talented team accepts a challenge and builds a product or service, all the way from an idea to production, without any middlemen. A dream or reality? Read and decide.

A multi-talented team is multidisciplinary

The concept of a team has expanded. A development team, including a developer, scrum master and product owner, is no longer enough.

A multi-talented team involves all the people needed to produce the desired results. In addition to a development team, it may include specialists in business activities, design, marketing, sales, financial administration, robotics, data analytics, AI or any other functions that are important considering the specific goal or service. Service designers and business developers are also in. A team may also include customers or business partners.

The team is given a vision, a goal and a high level of autonomy in terms of execution and decisions. The results are what count.

What makes a multi-talented team better than the conventional model?

The idea of a multi-talented team is that all the people who are important considering the desired results work together as a team – physically together in the same place, not through any separate team meetings.

As a result, communication improves and decisions can be made without any delays. The amount and level of innovation and optional solutions increase as all parties bring their own know-how to the team, starting from the development stage. The team is able to produce and test optional solutions with a short feedback cycle. In the end, the desired results can be achieved more quickly and more accurately compared with more conventional methods.

All parties learn more and obtain a better understanding of the whole project.

  • The solution is weighed from many perspectives.
  • The solution is many-faceted.
  • The solution addresses different applications and needs.
  • Producing the solution increases competence.
  • The innovation and fast completion of the solution may come as a surprise, even to the team members.

Does organisational hierarchy present an obstacle when building a multi-talented team?

If the benefits of multi-talented teams are so obvious, why are they so rare? The largest obstacle seems to be the organisational structure, which often consists of business areas, departments, units and similar. If different parts of an organisation have separate goals, they are not willing to let others use their talents, as their own results steer the allocation of resources.

This is a question of leadership. Ordinarily, decisions and steering are top-down directed, and managers want to pull the strings. A multi-talented team works best when it is autonomous and has the power to make decisions over what it does.

Does specialisation kill innovation?

Many current development models are based heavily on specialised functions that may not have any previous experience in working together. As a result, they rely on the waterfall model. A development team fulfils business needs, after which the validity of the solution is verified by customers, changes are made to production, data is collected and the usability of the service is measured.

Often, it is only discovered after the project has completed that this and that should have been done. Does all this sound familiar?

How can you build a multi-talented team?

A team must be built. Luckily, a broad range of building tools is available. For example, Christopher Avery’s Powerful Teams offers practical advice on how anyone can build any team at any time.

Siili Academy offers training on its Powerful Teams course. Ask more and register now!

IBM PC – innovation and rapid R&D using a multi-talented team

The development of IBM PC is a case in point when it comes to the abilities of a multi-talented team in research and development.  A multi-talented team of 12 people started the development of IBM PC in a laboratory in Boca Raton during the era of large mainframes. The team was asked to build a versatile personal computer – all this during a time when even certain managers of major corporations were unable to imagine what ordinary people would do with a personal computer.

The team broke all the R&D rules IBM had in place at the time. The rest is history. Most likely, you are reading this article using a product that is based on that team’s work.

Read more about the historical project of IBM’s team here.


Written by

Teemu Torvelainen

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