A multidisciplinary approach involves drawing appropriately from multiple disciplines to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations. One widely used application of this approach is in health care, where people are often looked after by a multidisciplinary team that aims to address their complex clinical and nursing needs.
Historically, the first practical use of the multidisciplinary approach was during World War II by what became known as the military–industrial complex. Notably, the Lockheed Aircraft Company set up its own special projects operation—nicknamed the Skunk Works—in 1943 to develop the XP-80 jet fighter in just 143 days.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the multidisciplinary approach was successfully employed in the UK by architects, engineers, and quantity surveyors working together on major public-sector construction projects and, together with planners, sociologists, geographers, and economists, on overseas regional and urban planning projects. Three London-based professional practices led the field: Ove Arup & Partners, Colin Buchanan & Partners, and Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM).