Dismantling Corporate Silos

bldgOne of the most common challenges that I’ve discovered through working with organisations all over world is that most have silos. What I mean by that is there is internal separation between departments and misunderstandings in their communication.

The impact of silos is miscommunication, missed deadlines and misunderstanding. From working with organisations, I believe that silos are one of the biggest problems organisations face. The challenge comes with dismantling a silo. I think that sometimes we make it a bit too complex, where when it really comes down to it, silos are caused when people dehumanise others by giving them labels, i.e. the ‘sales guys,’ the ‘bean counters,’ the ‘HR staff.’

Dismantling silos is simple. It starts with the act of using people’s names respectfully and thinking about their individual concerns, fears and needs. For example, rather than saying ‘the sales guys,’ use the person’s name: “Mike from the sales team needs this report by Friday the 25th.”

To deconstruct a silo, start with humanising the people in the department, rather than putting labels on them.

Other thoughts to dismantle silos include:

Staff lunch; getting a group of people together to actually meet each other, rather than just sending emails
Using people’s names
Having a one-on-one meeting with people without a political or work agenda

Whom can you connect with (on a human level) this week to break down silos?


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  • Tim Dee
    Posted at 01:36h, 24 September Reply

    Totally agree that silos represents one of the most common problems in virtually every organisation I’ve worked with; in fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the number one issue facing most large corporations today and is literally tearing them apart. My theory has been that it is easier for people to think/own their own little piece of turf rather than consider the wider implications of an action or project, which takes a lot more thought/consideration and won’t always fit neatly into a little box. As a result you have many individual silos with little or no integration to bring these together into a single effective operating model.

    This isn’t always bad, it can create opportunities for innovation – people in their silo dissatisfied with the status quo find a way to work around the constraints or charge through them altogether in a way never considered before. The challenge then is (a) how to replicate this new way of working across the entire organisation consistently and collaboratively, and (b) how to ensure the innovation continues without being halted / slowed down by detractors (tall poppy syndrome).

    • Colin Boyd
      Posted at 06:39h, 25 September Reply

      Thanks for the thoughts, Tim!

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