Cross functional development teams seems like a no-brainer:
- Having representatives from marketing, finance, operations, customer service, etc. involved early should speed the development process by allowing communication and coordination to be performed in parallel instead of linear fashion.
- Diversity of ideas and viewpoints should aid decision-making.
However, managing cross-functional teams is not trivial. There is a rich literature in management on difficulties in communication, increased turnover and conflict from diversity. So it should perhaps not have been that surprising that the Henard and Szymanski meta-analysis did not find cross-fuctional integration to be a strong antecedent of success in product development.
The current issue (March) of the Journal of Product Innovation Management is a special issue devoted to cross functional teams in new product development. I have not yet read the full issue, but will likely post more info as I read it.
For those who like a summarized version, NC State put out a news release about two of the articles that were co-authored by members of its faculty.
“When it comes to leading a team tasked with developing new products and bringing them to market, new research from North Carolina State University shows that being nice and playing well with others gives you a very real competitive advantage. One new study shows that project managers can get much better performance from their team when they treat team members with honesty, kindness and respect. A second study shows that product development teams can reap significant quality and cost benefits from socializing with people who work for their suppliers.” The full release is here:
[A quick note to basketball fans. I will likely extend my 20-year record of losing a Tokyo-based “March Madness” pool as I indeed selected Radford to beat North Carolina.