The benefits of a multidisciplinary team
24 January 2022
Question: What do The Avengers and an onion have in common? Nope, it’s not crying (although the end of Avengers: Endgame was pretty emotional). The answer, as it turns out, is that both can teach us something about why multidisciplinary teams can be the key to a project’s success.
What is a multidisciplinary team? In a nutshell, a multidisciplinary team should be:
- organised around one mission/goal – a desired outcome that they’re all working towards (rather than around specific business functions, like marketing or sales)
- lean, say, between 5 and 10 people (this can increase incrementally as the project goes through its lifecycle)
- include people from different disciplines, each providing specific contributions to the project at hand
You could argue that this doesn’t sound different from a normal team structure, but missions/goals in an agile setting are broader and more targeted than business goals some organisations might be used to working towards.
I’m part of a multidisciplinary team right now as Delivery Manager for the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) hazardous waste discovery.
Our small, but nicely formed, core team includes a perfect mix of NRW subject matter experts and CDPS digital specialists (design and user research) who have expertise in hearing the voice of people that use policies and services.
As for our mission, it’s to understand the end-to-end journey for the NRW hazardous waste users and identify the areas where we can make it much simpler and easier.
You can see the team in action here:
This way of working is new to NRW though, and our project is the first step towards hopefully embedding this practice further within the organisation. Our team’s product lead, Alex Harris (full-time at NRW), had this to say on the experience thus far:
“This is the first time NRW has set up a multidisciplinary team dedicated to finding out what our users want from us. The core team have been given the time to fully engage with the process which has really paid off in the workshops. So far, we have had really positive engagement from our key collaborators and other subject matter experts across the business.”
As well as the multidisciplinary team, we also have a team onion of collaborators and supporters around us too.
What does this mean and why is it important? Find out in our next blogpost which will be published later this week.
If you’d like to know any more about this subject, or about our project so far, then please leave a comment below or get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog post by Pete Stanton, Delivery Manager, Natural Resources Wales hazardous waste discovery.