Cross-dysfunctional teams


Every agile enthusiast will tell you how powerful an empowered, self-managing, cross-functional team can be. Once you have one, it brings complete team accountability from product idea to customer support, it naturally grows with continuous improvement, and finds self motivation in innovation and delivery of customer value.

It’s a beautiful and powerful concept; the practical implementation sometimes is not so beautiful and more often than not what you get, is a cross-dysfunctional team.

Let’s have a look at the cross-dysfunctional examples I have experienced.

Pseudo specialist cross-dysfunctional teamfarm-silo

Developer: “I am a developer I am not meant to test, the testers test!”

Tester: “I don’t need to know anything about how the product is designed, I only care about how the customers use it!”

Business Analyst: “I am not technical, I can’t help you guys!”


devops“As Long As It Works for us” cross-dysfunctional team

Developer: “It works in our environments, it’s operations responsibility to make it work in production”

Tester: ”Listen, it worked in UAT, it must be a configuration issue, or a missing firewall hole and nothing I could have spotted during testing…”

Customer: “Hello! Nothing works here…”

Abdicating cross-dysfunctional teamheadinsand

Developer: “The architect told me to do it like this”

Tester: “Feck it, let the Test manager deal with it”

Business Analyst: “I don’t think there is any value in this story, but the Product Owner wants it, so get on with it and develop it!”


no-thanks-were-too-busyContinuous Decline cross-dysfunctional team

Developer: “No point in doing retrospectives, things are always the same”

Tester: “We DON’T HAVE TIME to try new things!”

Business Analyst: “We do it like this, because that’s how we do things here, and that’s it!”

Disintegrated cross-dysfunctional teamWorked-Fine-In-Dev-Ops-Problem-Now

Developer: “My code works perfectly, it’s their system that doesn’t work, who cares”

Tester: “We have 100% coverage, all our tests pass and we have no bugs, if the developers of system X are idiots, there is nothing we can do about it”

Customer: “And still, nothing works here…”


ihazsuperiorityNazi cross dysfunctional team

Developer: “Testers are failed programmers, they shouldn’t be called engineers”

Tester: “Developers are only able to produce bugs, the world would be better with more testers and less developers”

Business Analysts: “I don‘t know why I bother talking to testers and developers, they are total idiots”

Do you recognise your team in one of the categories above? What have you done until now to help your team change? Little? Nothing? But you are still bitching about it, aren’t you?

Remember, you are very powerful and can become the change that you want to see.

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4 thoughts on “Cross-dysfunctional teams

  1. Developer: “I am a developer I am not meant to test, the testers test!”
    Kind of – our team (including project leads) seems to think that manual testing is unnecessary, also testing is done by some test team that no one has or wants to talk to. Luckily we arn’t any where near production yet… and the way things are going we w

    Developer: “The architect told me to do it like this”
    Oh yes, all to familiar, sadly enough we working on client side with lets say “highly skilled” technical architects. Who have a really firm idea of how to implement a system SE style, even so the target platform is EE.

    Developer: “No point in doing retrospectives, things are always the same”
    Yep, sadly there is no point, every one comes to the retrospective people talk 20-30 minutes about class name prefixes, never mind that the we do not have any change management or that the application is not working on the target platform…

    Developer: “My code works perfectly, it’s their system that doesn’t work, who cares”
    Well not so much the developer, but certainly our “technical architect” seems to think like that.

    Am I bitching about it, hell yes… because there is nothing more I can do about it. We have tried to change the way the project is run, sadly enough we have gotten a bloody nose each and every time.

    • Stephan, thanks for your feedback!
      I am sorry to hear your team is cross dysfunctional and you haven’t been able to change it.
      Did you identify what the general issue is? I’ts ok to get a bloody nose once in a while if we believe what we do will eventually help, but if it is an unfair fight where you’ve got boxing gloves and your opponents kalashnikovs then you better have an exit strategy. Life is too short to spend it complaining, or not?

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