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How to Keep Expertise in a Feature Team

Productivity
Reorganization
Motivation
Team Reaction
Team Processes

2 October, 2018

Nicolas Tricot
Nicolas Tricot

VP of Engineering at Padok

Nicolas Tricot discusses the problem he faced when reorganizing into feature teams. Implementing feature teams is an important and effective strategy for ensuring the right people are working together on a specific project. While these teams often yield success, the feature team members who are pulled from their dedicated teams often fear they will lose their expertise, or miss out on opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge about their specialization

Problem

When a manager builds a feature team, they bring people together from different teams, with different skills to work on a specific project. For example, a feature team can include someone from the data team and a member of the iOS development team. When establishing these teams, tech companies are often faced with the problem that feature team members fear losing their skills little by little because they no longer will be in touch with their workmates from the same concentration, on a daily basis. The question is, is there a way to reassure feature team members that they will not only keep their skills, but also continue to learn from their peers?

Actions taken

To solve this problem, I implemented 'chapters' where time was dedicated each week for feature team members to regroup with other employees in their speciality. In these meetings, chapter members took this time to share things they had learned and helped each other with skills they may be looking to improve. The chapter strategy not only benefited my employees' individual expertise, but also brought new knowledge back to the feature teams, ultimately contributing to the future of the project. Freedom was also an initial part of the chapter strategy I implemented. Members were able to use the time as they saw it would best benefit the team. This 'freedom of decision' was not only in how to best utilize this time, how to organize the meetings, and what topics to cover, but also in choosing the leader of the chapter.

Lessons learned

I learned it is important to dedicate time for people with the same skills and technical background to meet and continue to learn from each other and feel inspired. Although, I also learned that the ability for each team to organize themselves, and have a productive meeting, really depends on the team members in that chapter. Moving forward it would work better to ensure someone with more organizational skills, such as a manager, is included in each chapter to help these meetings run more smoothly. Otherwise they can end up either being overly complicated or just straight unorganized. Overall, the chapter solution gives the whole team dedicated moments to share their expertise together, build the future of their team, and ultimately see a vision for their feature project.

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