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Breaking the skill silos: how to help teams become cross-functional – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.


In this episode, we talk about getting management to be involved and buy-in to the agile transformation.

How to help teams share knowledge and become cross-functional teams

We’ve all been there, when a front-end developer can’t work on a feature because only the back-end part of the feature is missing, but the backend developer is busy or even better: waiting for the DB admin to make some changes.

This is just another form of siloed skillsets. Where one person can only do one task and the other person needs to wait.

How do we help teams understand and practice shared ownership of their work? Sharing knowledge and ultimately making sure that the team can always deliver, no matter who is there?

This is the question we explore in this episode with Jeff Campbell. We discuss the possible reasons why team members are reluctant to share their knowledge, and share tools that can help teams “see” the need for cross-skilling of the team. Kanban is mentioned as an approach that makes the dependency on one skill visible to all in the team.

Resources and tools

  • CodeKata: A deliberate practice for developers to improve their skills and share knowledge with each other.
  • The Coding Dojo Handbook by Emily Bache, a very practical book to help you prepare a coding dojo. A space where team members practice to learn.
  • MobProgramming: a whole-team practice that ensures not only sharing of knowledge but also that the team is constantly collaborating on the most important task they have at hand.

About Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is the author of Actionable Agile Tools, a book with practical tools and practices to help you amplify your impact as a coach and Scrum Master

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organizations both small and large.

Jeff is also involved in the Agile community and is one of the founding members of Gothenburg Sweden’s largest agile community at 1500+ members www.scrumbeers.com, and he also organizes the yearly conference www.brewingagile.org.

You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

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