Up, over and down is the path of information and decisions in an organization saturated in silos. Silos are great for separating corn from wheat for long term storage, but in organizations, silo-like isolation of people or departments prevents innovation, agility and growth. A recent study by the American Management Association found 97% of executives believed `silos’ have negative effects on organizations, 31% believed they have extensive destructive consequences, and 83% believed they existed in their companies.
Symptoms of silos in an organization include ineffective communication and dreadful decision making. At the end of the day, silos are a leadership issue.
Strategies for piercing silos and overcoming these organizational obstacles:
- Trust – when trust is absent people build barricades between themselves and others to hold on to their real or imagined territory. When trust increases the barriers melt away.
- Higher Purpose – reinforce the organizational vision or strategy and focus on “we” not “me.” Look above the stockades of the silo to collectively accomplish the vision together.
- Alignment – make sure that ALL actions are clearly aligned to the higher purpose. Just having a vision or a strategy is not sufficient if it’s not clear and actions are not aligned to achieving it.
- Values – reward teamwork and respect to encourage the values that overcome a mindset steeped in silos. You cannot just talk about communication and collaboration. You must have commensurate rewards to reinforce the values and the behaviors that demonstrate them.
Successful organizations banish silos and achieve astonishing outcomes through a well communicated vision that is aligned with action and reinforced through values. Pierce the silos for permanent positive performance.