Other than a momma bear protecting its cubs, it’s rare to find a situation where there is such passion around the protection of resources as in IT.

Maybe because we work so hard to get funding, maybe because everyone has so much work and not enough people, or maybe just because we don’t want to share, getting things done beyond organizational silos is hard in IT.

If funding was taken off the table, the benefits of enabling resources to work cross-functionally are real. When you think of digital native companies and startups without hard organizational boundaries where pools of resources are available to work on important initiatives, the agility and speed with which they deliver value is hard to emulate for traditional IT organizations. Part of the challenge is how the funding often impacts resource management. When we struggle to get funding and the resources we need, we tend to protect capacity to work on our own initiatives, and lose sight of the benefits of what happens when we give up resources to work on larger more strategic cross-functional efforts.

From a team member perspective, keeping them “in the nest” so to speak also limits the development and on the job experiential training that occurs when we free up time for our resources to work beyond their organizational day job. Making opportunities available to employees to work on something new or out of the daily norm is the sweet spot where we typically see our employees get a sense of renewed purpose, increased engagement and motivation. The benefits to the individual is that they get more cross-functional exposure, which will help them whether they continue working in your group, or if they go on to add value somewhere else in the organization.

Therein lies the rub, as a manager, we fear the risk of losing our good employees after giving them the opportunity to work on cross-functional initiatives. As a steward of our organization’s most important asset, our people, our responsibility always lies with identifying the right people on the right projects at the right time, regardless of whether it means we give up capacity to drive greater value for the business. Although it’s also hard for the momma bear, even she knows when her cubs are ready to leave the den.