It struck me that as we have removed the handoffs in the waterfall system by creating cross-functional teams; we have inadvertently created a different type of silo; the product silo or knowledge silo. When there is no need for handoffs, the cross-functional team can become insular and separated from other cross-functional teams in the organization. As the team works to meet its goals and succeed, insular behaviour can become the norm. This can become a particular challenge if the team is cohesive and works well together.
1) Secondment: Individual team members can join other cross-functional teams for brief periods (e.g. one week), to gain a different experience and also share whatever lessons they have learned from working with their own team. This can be a good way to cross-pollinate best practice and also learn what other teams are working on.
2) Rotation: At the end of each project, cross-functional teams are split up and new configurations of team members are put together for working on new projects. This is again a good way to cross-pollinate best practice. However, it has the draw back that teams have to go through the process of getting accustomed to working with each other on every new project. There is a value in long-term relationships that may be lost with too much rotation.
3) Team of Teams: This practice is based on the notion of scrum of scrums. In this practice, each team designates one member, as an ambassador to participate is a daily/weekly meetings with ambassadors from other teams. The ambassador role can be rotated, or assigned to the product owner. My preference is for rotating the ambassador role so that each team member gets a chance to learn what is going on in the organization first-hand.
4) Demo Day: Once a week/month various teams get together for a show-and-tell meeting where they demo the stuff they are working on and speak about any challenges they are facing. Teams can then give each other feedback and offer to help each other with specific resources, knowledge or talent.
Depending on the company and the nature of the work it does, some of the above solutions may not work for you. However, it is important to recognize the challenge of cross-functional silos and tackle it head-on. Bespoke solutions can then be created for your specific context. Please share other solutions to cross-functional silos that you have either implemented or seen in other organizations. Looking forward to your comments.