Every organization struggles with organizational silos. The word “Silos” gets a bad rapport because of the negative affects they create. However, Rome was not built nor was it destroyed in a day. Everything takes time, but there are some things you can do to speed it up.
If you are the only person that knows how to do your job, you might be doing a bad job.
If you are the only person that knows how to do your job, you might be doing a bad job. In an age that data is so accessible, it is sometimes strange to think Silos can still exist. The technology changes and the information is readily available but that is not enough. Just because you have all of the information and you have all of the tools, doesn’t mean you will be successful. I may have all the right gear and I may have studied all of the trials and paths but it doesn’t mean I can climb Mount Everest. Preparation is a must and Leadership is key.
When information only flows one way you lose a major factor that mitigates silos; the feedback loop.
Lacking a team mentality and communication, competing for resources, losing focus of organizational goals, and misguided incentives are just some of the signs that point toward a silo culture
So how do you get rid of silos within your organization? You Don’t!
Short answer is, you don’t, at least not right away. This is where the idea of glass silos comes into play. A late colleague of mine, once told me a story about how to cook a frog. I think he heard it on a AM station or something, but the story will forever stay with me. Cooking a frog is an analogy for change, and that one, it always happens, and two, the slower you go, the more acceptable people are to it. It makes a lot of sense, very similar to how your kid just kind of grows up right in front of you and then one day you look back at pictures and wonder where the hell the time went. Glass silos create a way to ease the rate of change and reduce the resistance.
The Edge at Eureka Skydeck is a glass cube that sticks out nearly 10 feet from the rest of the building, more than 980 feet above the ground. It is truly an engineering masterpiece, but what is intriguing about this skydeck is the idea that security can be achieved through transparency. Facing your fears or exposure therapy is a way to successfully move forward. Something that comes to mind is those makeup oil blotters, they start out as an opaque sheet and before you know it, you wipe your forehead and you can see right through it… maybe a weird analogy but it’s the way my brain works; the principle is along the same thought process though, releasing your ideas and work into a transparent state can be very freeing and yes, at times can be scary, but once it is out in the open, great ideas and work become shared and long lasting solutions can be made possible.
Security can be achieved through transparency.
From defensive walls to glass observation decks to complete collaboration, teamwork and information sharing, breaking silos are possible. You have to stage it out.
I am not going to go into detail or layout 5 steps on how you can break silos because you can probably Google and get a hundred different articles about the topic. I simply wanted to bring some thoughts and share my two cents. The way to break down negative culture is not to break anything at all but to begin to peel back the layers and get rid of the false sense of security and empower people to create and drive their own success. Where one fails, many can succeed. Are you providing a way to reward single success and many failures in your business, or are you breeding a culture that believes failure is a part of success and requires the whole organization to get to the finish line together?