Destroy Silos Before They Destroy You

I asked an elected official to share his impressions of the political process. Without hesitation he said, “It’s disappointing that the Democrats and Republicans are sitting in separate rooms figuring out how to make the other party look bad. Politicians live in silos.

Silos are great for storing things but destructive to organizations.

Effective leaders always destroy silos.

Organizational silos:

  1. Grow inward like incestuous families.
  2. Isolate talent.
  3. Hoard resources.
  4. Slow progress.
  5. Dampen enthusiasm.
  6. Create paranoia.
  7. Act in self-protective ways that damage others.
  8. Don’t network.
  9. Focus on individual good rather than organizational good.
  10. Win when others lose.

Bonus: Silos resist change.

Silo Breakers:

Silo-breaking is painful and slow but can be done.

  1. Form a clear picture of your organization without silos.
  2. Define specific behaviors that enhance collaboration and break silos.
  3. Hold cross-department planning meetings. Let them see the “enemy.”
  4. Embrace decision-making by participants not isolated bosses.
  5. Tell stories that honor collaboration and illustrate silo-breaking.
  6. Reward teams and teamwork.
  7. Develop leadership skills and attitudes that enhance collaboration.
  8. Measure performance in terms of teams.
  9. Seek best solutions regardless of the source.
  10. Establish inclusive rather than exclusive systems.

Bonus: Embrace maximum transparency and information sharing.

Silos are slow, cumbersome, and destructive. Organizations with silos may win battles but eventually they collapse inward and lose the war.

What are the symptoms of organizational silos?

How would you being silo-breaking in your organization?

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