As a coach, I’ve encountered a great deal of confusion when talking to teams about building a cross-functional team. Often, as soon as I mention the notion, the reaction is negative. People often seem to think of cross functional behavior as every person on the team being able to do every job on the team. The impression that they get is that they are being told specialization is bad, and generalization is good. I believe this is often exactly what some Agile advocates are thinking when they talk about cross functional teams, but I want to paint a different picture.
I mean, generalization overall is a good thing. But we still need specialists. We are looking for the right mix of people with the right skills – not one person with all the skills. Everyone can’t and won’t be equally good at everything.