Working in an Interdisciplinary Team

It is commonly known that teamwork makes a huge impact on an organization’s success. However, what additional benefits are there when there are many different perspectives and strategies within the team?
An interdisciplinary team is a group of individuals that come from various educational backgrounds that are focused on one common goal. Each team member brings a unique set of skills and perspectives that the team would not be as successful without each member’s expertise. CPG’s interdisciplinary teams operate with several educational backgrounds such as Cognitive Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Instructional Systems Design, Clinical/Developmental Psychology, Experimental Psychology, and Cross-Cultural Competence. Some of the benefits we have encountered from working in an interdisciplinary team are:

Different perspectives on complex problems. The team’s flexibility increases when there are different options for successfully solving a problem. With various solutions to pick from, the team may find the optimal solution within the constraints of their resources. In addition, with many educational backgrounds in the team, different aspects of the problem would be examined there by reducing the likelihood of missing key components of the solution.

Breakdown buzzword barriers. Many times miscommunication can occur by using words that are interpreted differently by different educational backgrounds. These miscommunications can lead to breakthrough discussions about how each person defines those buzzwords that may have led to confusion. By having these discussions, the team can find better words to describe processes and concepts.

Fine-tune your expertise. Especially in smaller teams, each person will be solely responsible for the tasks that require their expertise. Each person is a representative of that particular perspective and therefore need to be able to defend their work. It is essential to be up to date with the latest trends and findings in your field for them to be utilized by your team.

Define the “why” of your ways. Often times, a team member won’t be familiar with another member’s processes and will have questions about why they need processes completed a certain way. It may be difficult for experts to find an easy way to answer these types of questions. To prepare for these questions, think of ways to define everything you do in terms that are easy to understand. Answering these questions with ease will resolve miscommunications and frustrations that may occur within an interdisciplinary team.

There are countless opportunities to grow and learn as a professional when working in an interdisciplinary team. Have you worked in an interdisciplinary team before? What were some of your experiences?



About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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