Corporate IT: Why Fusion Teams are Essential to Digitalization

In the face of unprecedented challenges, sometimes the powers of Ironman, the Hulk, or even demigod Thor are not enough. It’s only when those complementary powers come together in a team — such as The Avengers — that the contest begins to seem winnable.

Somewhat similarly (ahem), many companies are now trying to bring together expertise from different pockets of the firm into cross-functional teams or “fusion teams” to tackle the plethora of digital challenges and opportunities that firms now face. Yet only one in four of these cross-functional digitalization teams is able to provide the right results and to the deadlines that line managers require, according to CEB data.

Four Behaviors

Many managers think of team management as more of an art than a science, where they have to understand and manage obscure internal workings and a host of variables that make it difficult to predict what will make the team successful. But analysis shows that the cross-functional digitalization teams that demonstrate four “fusion behaviors” are the most likely to be successful.

Finding employees that exhibit these four mutually reinforcing behaviors will create teams that successfully pursue the right digital opportunities, work on overlapping tasks and activities, continually reshuffle responsibilities, and learn from each other to develop new expertise.

  1. Coaching commitment: Most employees focus on improving their performance at individual tasks with little consideration of how the rest of the team performs.

    However, successful teams have team members who feel duty bound to coach one other to develop new areas of expertise and together achieve the overall team objectives.

  2. Learning mind-set: Instead of only developing skills relevant to their own area of expertise or function, team members are open to learning new skills that are relevant elsewhere.

    This behavior is complementary to coaching commitment; together they ensure collaboration among team members to improve collective skills while pursuing digital opportunities.

  3. Open disposition: To skillfully manage the inherent uncertainty associated with digitalization work, fusion team members are open to risk and new ways of working.

    This behavior can be especially difficult for IT employees to exhibit as the years of stress on the importance of standardization and centralization often makes them process-centric, and focused on their own functions.

  4. Digital acumen: Apart from developing relevant skills, those in successful teams have a broad-based understanding of how digitalization affects the company as a whole and how to best exploit it.

    This involves the knowledge of both operating model and other company-wide changes related to digitalization.


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