If you’ve ever worked in a large organization, you’ve probably had to deal with the problem of silos.
What are silos? 👉 In organizations, silos are separations between different types of employees and teams. Organizations create silos when they don’t share valuable information with the rest of the company.
In short, silos are the opposite of collaboration.
Not sure if your organization has silos? Here are a few signs to look out for:
🔻No cross-team or cross-department projects
🔻Lack of meetings or activities that encourage interaction between teams
🔻Managers aren’t aware of new initiatives
🔻Management does not promote collaboration
🔻Things like information or equipment are hard to find
You might also find that silos take different forms. For example, here are 5️⃣ different types of silos:
🌍 Geographical silos
🤝 Partnership silos
💼 Departmental silos
🖇 Cross-functional team silos
🔒 Hierarchy silos
As you can imagine, working in silos is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Having a “silo mentality” reduces productivity, innovation, morale, and efficiency, as teams do not share knowledge, ideas, or perspectives. This lack of collaboration, in turn, diminishes employee engagement, motivation, and trust. It can also lead to poor decision-making due to lack of information and collaboration and foster a toxic corporate culture. When it comes to accelerating sustainability, silos make innovation and change much more difficult – and these are the two key ingredients required to drive sustainability.
It’s not all helpless! Here are 7️⃣ ways to break down the silos within your organization:
✅Clarify the company’s vision and mission and create step-by-step goals
✅Promote cross-team collaboration (e.g. assign projects that require two departments to work together)
✅Make better use of knowledge management tools to create a centralized location for information
✅Use collaboration tools (here are some of our favorites!)
✅Organize cross-team bonding events and activities
✅Get leadership buy-in
✅Set up a learning center or team
Example: Harvard Business Review suggests hosting Work-Outs, a methodology devised by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. The Work-Out process physically brings everyone together to follow a structured conversation and collaboration and come up with solutions. During these sessions, team members get real-time input from stakeholders and can make immediate decisions on how to move forward. In true Limelights fashion, Work-Outs are a great demonstration of co-creation – bringing people, perspectives, and ideas together to drive action.
Goodbye silos, hello cross-functional teams
In another example, used car retailer CarMax decided to work in cross-functional teams to mitigate potential silos from springing up.
The company’s executives implemented new actions like:
🔸Establishing new team structures (i.e. every team had to have a product manager, a user experience professional, and a developer or engineer)
🔸Breaking down walls (literally) and moving people around so they could sit together as a team
🔸Shifting the teams’ measure of success to be based on business objectives met instead of the number of products produced
The result? Teams at CarMax started to deliver better business results faster and became more innovative and focused on customer experience.
Similarly, Sprints can counteract silos and their negative effects, in which a group of employees from different teams within an organization works together to solve a problem. We use Sprints as well as a comprehensive Facilitator of Change program to train diverse employees from across the organization to work together and drive business-critical sustainability projects.
👉Are you a change leader in a large organization that struggles with silos? Reach out today to find out how we can help you break down your silos and accelerate sustainability!