When a project requires more agility and more expertise than usual, the manager often builds a cross-functional team. However, because of the corporate environment setup, managers tend to know only their direct reports, and fellow managers. So, when it’s time to build a cross-functional team, how does the project’s manager know which other employees will be most useful in the specific project? Simple answer: they don’t.
The typical team creation process looks like this: the project’s manager will ask fellow managers which of their team members are available to assist on the project, and then the fellow managers will offer a certain percentage of the available employees’ time. Not only can this take a couple of weeks to put together, but it leads to a more significant problem: you have a team built around availability rather than expertise.
This problem has been rolling around in my head. Sometimes, you just want a quick conversation between a few subject matter experts, and you don’t want to waste two weeks bringing the team together, especially when you might end up with whoever is available, not necessarily the experts.
This led me to the idea of what I like to call micro-teams. Essentially, you reach out directly to the subject matter experts and collaborate immediately, either for a quick five minute conversation, or as a starting point for a long-term project. In order to find the experts, and avoid the problem of only seeking out team members you know personally, you can use social.
By using social, you can search for experts yourself, by looking through profile information. You can also send out a signal across teams, and allow those passionate experts to identify themselves. Either way, you avoid the barrier of interacting with managers to reach their team members. This direct access speeds up the team formation and leads to a higher level of expertise.
Don’t think about a team as a permanent unit. Think about it as a micro-team: a group of experts that come together quickly through social, to reach answers more efficiently.
To find out more about how social builds better teams, contact one of our experts.