Project Work & Multifunctional Teams

A dramatic change in the structure of modern organizations is transforming the very nature of work.  The traditional position descriptions that are part of a formal, rigid, hierarchical organizational structure are changing into loosely structured, multifunctional virtual project teams.

These virtual project teams work across time zones and borders as part of multiple project teams.  They can be easily assembled and dissembled at the completion of the project.

Project work requires very different skill sets from traditional work styles of the past.  In the past, the organization was static, management was hierarchical, everyone met at the same location, and a lot of the work done was not measurable.

The organization of the future has little hierarchy, is flat in structure, and project oriented.

Attributes of project work:

  • Leadership can rotate from project to project
  • Team members work on multiple projects at any given time
  • Each project is a profit center
  • Relationships are formed instantly and may be disbanded at the completion of the project
  • Less infrastructure is required as support activities are more easily outsourced
  • Project work is more efficient as the outcomes of each team member’s work is readily measurable
  • As a team member’s skills improve, they can easily advance and perform different roles on future teams
  • Project work is exciting and stimulating for the team members
  • Each team member experiences a sense of completion when the project is fulfilled
  • A team member can be located anywhere on the plant
  • Knowledge is readily transferred from one project to the next
  • Each team member takes individual responsibility for the outcome of the project
  • Team members are self-motivated and take initiative

The most significant benefits of organizing around multifunctional project teams is the ability of the team to respond to change, to innovate and to produce a higher quality result for a lot less cost than the traditional structure.

“Organizations aren’t the visible, tangible places which they used to be. You can describe what they do, but you can’t see it.

If information is the raw material of the work, then there need be no common space at all. Place and time are now independent of one another. Global organizations will pass a project to a chain of groups around the world to keep pace with the time zones.

Some organizations are, in reality, little more than “boxes of contracts” with suppliers, agents, and specialists of one sort or another, with no visible presence at all.

The new organizations are always tending to be slightly out of control, their structures flexing, their people innovating.”

– Charles Handy

It is important to note, that this new organization structure doesn’t replace the existing traditional infrastructure – they coexist side by side.

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