One reason many of us came to the field of software engineering or software development is because we enjoy solving problems. It exercises out mental muscles, and gives us a feeling of satisfaction to know we can add value to our organizations and customers by solving tough problems. However, as the organizations we work for get bigger, and the scope of work gets bigger, so too do the problems we need to solve. There comes a point where we can’t solve them alone, or even with the immediate team we work with. Some problems require a cross-organization, multi-function approach. When our goal is to be a more agile, lean-thinking organization, we need to develop approaches to solving these types of problems.

This is where Problem Solving Teams come into play. Problem Solving Teams are temporary structures that bring together leaders and team members from across the organization to focus on solving a specific problem. The benefits are many, including not just a solved problem, but also a more resilient organization, a stronger social network and a growing cohort of problem solvers with increased skills and abilities.

This approach draws from many influences, including complexity science, social network theory, military doctrine, flight crews, and emergency responders. We have been experimenting with this approach across several areas that involve multiple geographies and multiple functions.

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