Efficiencies gained from permanent dedicated teams with continuous funding.

Hi Mark,

Are you guys able to quote any studies in your book on the increase in effectiveness that can be achieved by establishing permanent dedicated cross-functional teams as opposed to teams that get torn down and re-assembled for each project? I am looking for a solid industry study that is widely excepted. Our company currently has a mix of both types of teams and I am looking for some industry data to compare against.



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3 comments on “Efficiencies gained from permanent dedicated teams with continuous funding.

Hi Bob. I don’t personally have any stats on this, perhaps Scott does. However, it has been very clear in my experience that keeping the team together results in far greater productivity than having to start a project with a new team. During each project, the DAD teams bond and become very efficient in how they work together. The retrospectives drive their own process improvements and it is a shame if these lessons learned and resulting improvements are lost when a new team is assembled. Additionally the Inception phase is minimized with in-place teams or potentially even eliminated altogether between releases.

A compromise to forming new teams for each project is to keep some of the team together, and disband the rest, rotating people between projects for knowledge transfer. We have found that this approach minimizes disruption between releases and avoids the velocity of the new team from dropping off a cliff.


I don’t have any stats on this but should. Sigh.

In the book we described several strategies for forming teams, with keeping the team intact being our clear favorite. A feature of the book is that for goals such as forming a team with describe several strategies, the tradeoffs associated with each strategy, important considerations about the strategie (where appropriate), and then we suggest a likely good starting point if it isn’t clear which strategy is the best one for you.

We also promote the strategies of having dedicated team members, of cross-functional teams, and people who are cross-functional generalizing specialists themselves.

Bob, it seems to me that you’re in a position to study this yourself within your own company. Could take a few years to get solid data, but I suspect it would be a useful thing.



Take a look at “What makes Teams Work: Group Effectiveness Research from the Shop Floor to the Executive Suite” (http://www.stanford.edu/group/wto/cgi-bin/docs/Cohen_Bailey_97.pdf). The study backs up your assertion that long standing “work teams” are more productive and capable of self management than short term “project teams”. I think this is in large part due to the fact that it takes a significant amount of time for teams to coalesce. You may have heard of the four phases teams must go through: forming, storming, norming and performing (Bruce Tuckman). I’ve witnessed this process many times while coaching new teams working on agile projects. It generally takes about two to three iterations before the team hits the “performing” stage and really starts to work at maximum efficiency. Once they are there, managers are able to stop “looking down” at process compliance and start “looking up” at more strategic considerations. It’s that combination of performing teams and strategic management that maximizes their effectiveness.

Mark Speich
Ascendant Technology


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