The Advantages of a Multidisciplinary Team Approach for Problem-Solving – Part 2
Multidisciplinary teams, or MDTs, provide an environment for improved communication and collaboration, better decision making, and flexibility & adaptability to tackle complex problems. MDTs combine the knowledge of different disciplines to quickly identify solutions, reduce the time needed to complete tasks, and achieve higher quality results. This allows them to address any challenges efficiently and effectively.
Improved Communication and Collaboration
In an MDT environment, communication and collaboration are the essential keys to success. When done correctly, the outcome is stronger than any individual discipline on its own. Working alongside colleagues with different backgrounds, each individual brings their own unique point of view, based on their expertise and experience, to the table. This leads to the potential for uncovering novel and never seen approaches to dealing with a problem. The collaboration process opens doors and forces people to think outside the box. While managing a large team can be difficult, it is the number of people on the team that makes it easier to share ideas and reach a consensus on the best course of action.
To keep communication and collaboration effective and productive, there must be ground rules. Every team member must be prepared to both listen and learn from each other. Every person on the team must remain open minded. Respect is a key ingredient. Every member of the team must acknowledge that everyone else has something of value to contribute.
Every member of the team should be seeking out different opinions and perspectives from others. This gives the team the opportunity to pull their collective knowledge and generate creative solutions that would never have been attainable in a single discipline.
The interesting factor is that, once results begin to appear, an atmosphere of respect is solidified. It is always advisable for the leader to encourage that respect prior to people seeing results. This keeps every discipline actively engaged. Everyone at the table must be able to comprehend and appreciate the skills and knowledge of their peers. Once this is achieved, the team is ready to think outside the box. The leader can guide the team as they break down any walls that may have been established to create a single unified dialogue. The destruction of walls and opening of mines is what creates a more successful conversation and more productive collaborations, resulting in an end product or solution that is of superior quality.
When a diverse range of knowledge and expertise is pooled together, multidisciplinary teams can make informed decisions and the risk of overlooking important factors is minimized. People from an individual discipline may not be able to look at a problem from all directions. Teams from a single discipline tend to see problems from a single point of view.
The team, as a single moving organism, allows for more efficient problem-solving because of their diverse range of expertise.
Many times, in a workplace, we hear “This is how we always do it.” or “This is how it has always been done.” A multidisciplinary team can effectively destroy that narrow and myopic way of thinking. When someone looks in from the outside, they see things differently than we do.
As I write this, I am reminded of the movie Home Alone. There is a scene in the movie where Joe Pesci looks into the window of a house and sees people partying and dancing. His view is limited by the window shades and the narrow focus of the individual windows. As the camera perspective moves inside of the house, what Pesci sees as a party is nothing more than an elaborate system of conveyors, strings and manikins created by the child defending his house. Because Pesci did not have an opportunity to have a wider view, he saw what he saw. Had he seen the inside, he would’ve had a different perspective. I always imagine people from other perspectives and disciplines as the ones that give us a glimpse behind the curtain.
Because of the wide range of knowledge that the merging of disciplines brings to the table, it takes less time to accomplish certain tasks. People that are specialized in specific areas can complete a task within their purview faster than someone who is not.
A powerful multidisciplinary experience allows for problems to be resolved in a fraction of the time that it would take a single discipline. This merging of experience helps the team move forward faster and reach goals faster. When done correctly it is easier to stay on schedule, as well.
Flexibility and Adaptability
When the knowledge of multiple disciplines is pulled together, collaboration becomes more effective. As teams address challenges, their consolidated aptitude and proficiency empowers them to consider thoughts beyond the confines of the norm. As a group, they are able to contemplate problems from different points of view and analyze potential resolutions. Individuals with intimate knowledge of a specific specialized subject instill originality and advancement into the process which, in turn, facilitates more efficient problem-solving and innovation. Multiple disciplines provide the capability to adjust quickly when change is necessary.
MDTs can expediently size up or down depending on the scope of the objective, granting them an edge in addressing time sensitive constraints or sudden fluctuations in criteria.
During my career, there were many times when, instead of having a full team meeting, only the discipline necessary to deal with a certain problem were brought together to quickly and powerfully find solutions. This flexibility implies that MDTs are better prepared to face challenges and take on new tasks faster than other teams.
The capacity to easily adjust and operate flexibly makes multidisciplinary teams the perfect choice for tackling complex problems. They can apply their collective expertise and experience to devise imaginative solutions to complex problems.