When the students in my classes play the Meddlers game, they often organize teams around projects. Because they have learned, from various Agile sources, that you should “create cross-functional teams around projects”. This means, with small projects, they sometimes group together 3 “cross-functional” people to deliver a piece of software in 2 months, and they call them a “team”.
I think they’re wrong.
Goal-Oriented Social Units
Teams are goal-oriented social units (Esther Derby’s definition). Their goal is not just to deliver a project.
In an environment with continuous delivery and continuous improvement, it is very unclear what a “project” is! The concept of a “project” seems to me a convenient fiction that enables managers to spend budgets. That’s all.
I don’t know what the real goal of a team is. It depends on the team. But I do know that 3 people working together for only 2 months are probably not a team. They are just 3 people working together.
For teams to become social units, they have to be stable and they should have an identity. That takes probably longer than 3 months.
And for them to be goal-oriented, they must have a purpose. That takes more than delivering just one small project.
Organizing “cross-functional teams” around projects is just as short-sighted as organizing “functional teams” around job titles.
It’s the same mistake all over.