BMW Case Study Essay Sample
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BMW Case Study Essay Sample
- For BMW, cross functional teams are some hybrid form of management and communication culture. These cross functional teams are composed of people whose expertise comes from many different fields. Unlike in a traditional company where functional units are organized in a top-down structure, BMW’s cross functional teams are not relegated to such structure, instead these teams network around, finding connections between other teams to discover ideas that the team can use to reach its own targets.
These cross functional teams are used by BMW as mini innovation centers. By creating an environment where ideas are freely exchanged between a diverse set of backgrounds, these cross functional teams serve as a bubbling primordial soup of ideas and innovation. The mixture of different people allow for a more fluid cooperation between departments as the right person with the right mix of expertise might have the perfect solution which combines all the expertise of BMW’s people. Simply put, these cross functional teams serve as centers of synergy wherein the combined output of people from different backgrounds add up to something greater than the sum of their individual abilities.
- Speed is essential to BMW’s operations as electronics now drives most of the feature improvements in automobiles, thus the pace of change in automobile technology is now tied to the rapid pace of change in the electronics industry. Speed therefore is a driving force in management at BMW. In lieu of rigid bureaucracy, teams are encouraged to implement and experiment with ideas on their own accord. This allows ideas to be quickly put to the test. Teams are also encouraged to network with one another in a very open communication environment to help ideas and solutions quickly propagate across the organization. The network structure of the teams helps BMW in propagating information through these informal networks.
- The strength in BMW’s approach seems to be its ability to successfully trim down the bureaucracy in BMW’s organization. The networked management of cross functional teams has seemingly made BMW a very lean and agile corporation even if its largesse is comparable to firms such as GM or Toyota. It combines the best of two worlds – the speed and innovation of a silicon valley startup with the financial backing of a multibillion dollar automobile giant.
On the other hand, such an organic structure also runs the possibility of not getting anywhere. Without properly set goals and milestones, each team may never get out of their idea phase and into the implementation phase. Also, in these situations certain individuals may not feel driven enough due to a possible loss of recognition as their individual milestones get lost in a sea of innovation. BMW should make sure that each team’s successes will translate into individual successes by the team members. The opposite may also be true, that lackluster individual performance may also be masked by the networked team dynamics – a situation which BMW can handle by observant management.
- The presence of cross functional teams indicates BMW’s ability to operate as an ambidextrous organization. These cross functional teams behave as exploratory units with a culture, process and structure all their own, developed from the ground up by the individuals comprising the team. Instead of operating one large machine, BMW is essentially linking together many smaller individual machines with little control over how each machine operates. How one machine reaches its objectives is different and independent of how another team reaches its own objective but together the successes of these individual units culminate into a success for the general organization. These are traits associated with ambidextrous organizations.