Think Beyond – Break the Silos
‘Silo’ – A limited boundary (circle/block/group based on function, skill-set, job profile
etc.) perspective. The ‘Silo’ (Narrow / Inbox) perspective is killer for the expected value that can be build out of a product/solution.
I have been part of the IT industry over 15 years now and I observed that the organization structures (Matrix) are generally placed to create specialization and job focus. Although this worked well earlier with supervisors concentrating on their own functions and rarely looking up, down, or across the company, this doesn’t quite work that effective in today’s fast-paced, information- and consumer-driven economy.
Any set up (company, department, group of people with a vision) need to get away from the silo mentality because coordination across departments is where the greatest opportunities lie to create efficiency, drive change, incorporate sustainability, and harness the power and ideas of all the employees/members.
If we take a simple live example of software development, we form teams with cross-
functional skills to build the software. Each member/role in cross functional team (QA, Dev, DBA, Config Manager, Architect, Analyst, Product Owner…) know their job well and has his/her own perspective about the software/product to be built. i.e.
– Developer is more interested in what to build and how to build, programming language,
design patterns so on…
– QA member is interesting in solution requirement/document to create test plan which can be used for software verification/validation…
– Architect is busy thinking about technology, scalability, performance, maintainability…
– Product owner is interested in user statements to build stories for consumption,
identifying themes for release roadmap…
and so on….
Each function/Role is busy with their skill/expertise and limiting themselves to their box
(silo… narrow/defined boundary or box) and not thinking beyond….Why we are grouped
together?, Whom are we going to serve? Who is client / user? Why do they need what they
need? What is needed? Where is it going to be used? When is it needed?, How can we get the solution working?…
Thinking Beyond is about Thinking the Big Picture of WHY, WHOM, WHERE, WHAT, WHEN and then HOW?
How do we break the Silos?:
This typically happens because people are evaluated and incentivized by what they do for
their boss and within their department, not for how they help the company’s overall
efficiency, productivity, or success. Therefore, few steps have to happen to help break down walls and allow “cross-pollination” to develop shared/collective vision.
1. Ensure multi-directional communication and involvement. Encourage cross-functional teams to understand the ‘Big Picture’ (client, users, domain, product, company-wide objectives). Employees get to know each other, each other’s perspective, each other’s skill-set and where that fit in ‘Big Picture’ & why?
2. Eliminate formality in the workplace and the need to go through an endless chain of
command before engaging leaders/groups. Priorities need to be aligned.
3. Collaborative work culture – Decision making should be coordinated across silos.
4. Have single source of truth / Transparency – Establish common platforms and systems
across the organization . So that same data and information is available/radiated to all
5. Socialize learning / best practices – Find examples where cooperation / collaboration /One Team culture bringing success and make it viral.