I’ve been reading a book on Steve Jobs called “Inside Steve’s Brain” by Leander Kahney. Really interesting distillation of some of the Apple magic.
I was struck by the product development process, which is cross-functional in the extreme, with designers, engineers, marketers, and programmers all involved early and in a very connected way.
The book contrasted this with a typical step-by-step design process, where products are passed from one team to the next, and there’s little back and forth between the departments.
It all got me thinking of the problems caused by rifts between deep functional silos, and prompted this cartoon idea. I started thinking of the farm analogy after seeing this clever agency video on the source of creative juice.
It’s always cracked me up to hear the creative team referred to as “the creatives”, as if they’re a different species. In many companies, there’s such a lack of understanding of different functional groups that it does feel like different species at times. Which then makes it oh-too-easy to point the finger at another group when something goes wrong.
At method, we’ve tried to disband the functional silos by seating everyone at long inter-mixed tables, so you’ll sit next to a packaging engineer, a supply chain planner, and a structural designer. It helps, because you get the good chemistry from interacting all the time, and you often spark more ideas in an impromptu five minute chat than a scheduled cross-functional meeting. But, it takes work to break the functional silo shackles.
And even more work to go “free range”.