Stop slowing down your enterprise

The “Silo Mentality” might sound a little eerie at first, like the plot of a creepy sci-fi movie that takes place on a farm. But what is it, really?

The Silo effect occurs when separate departments or teams within an organization do not wish to share information with others in the same company— and productivity suffers because of it. One quintessential example of the silo effect is when two departments are working on practically identical initiatives, but neither of them is even aware of what the other is doing. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture

How it exist

The silo mindset does not appear accidentally nor is it a coincidence that most organisations struggle with interdepartmental turf wars. When we take a deeper a look at the root cause of these issues, we find that more often than not are the result of a conflicted leadership team.

Many executives may look at their organization and dismiss department inefficiencies and lack of cross-functional solutions with immature employees, lack of basic training, or simply the inability for some employees to play nicely with one another. Unfortunately, while these behaviours may be a result of the silo mentality; it is not the root cause. These assumptions will actually lead to long term harm to the organization as a whole by creating resentment and cynicism within the teams. Most employees become frustrated with their department and the organization as a whole when they have identified the problems, but can’t do anything about it. Then then sets a dangerous precedent for the future of corporations. Once we’ve created a silo for innovation, then it no longer becomes part of everyone’s job.

“That’s not my job, that’s why we have an innovation team.” — Someone fixing the Asana bugs, probably.

It is the responsibility of the leadership team to recognise this and rise above to create effective, long-term solutions that are scalable, executable, and realistic.


Teams tend to stick together, whether they work for a Fortune 100 company or a 50-person startup. After all, these colleagues often work toward similar goals and team boundaries are sometimes needed to keep things streamlined for meeting deadlines, and for nurturing camaraderie between teammates. If big corporation don’t move fast… the small will be eating the big. It’s no longer the big eats the small.

Siloed teams often lead to siloed information, an absolute killer of cross-functional collaboration critical to competing in business today. Teams that collaborate well with other teams tend to be more transparent and accountable, allowing them to move more quickly and drive better results.

Scrum task board, kanban board and many other software tools that help teams and departments collaborate better by providing visibility into project statuses, KPIs, real-time data, and other information. Using simple rules, project leaders can set up automatic notifications, reminders, update requests, and approval requests — so stakeholders are automatically informed when something changes, needs attention or is at risk.

Once teams embrace automated actions, individuals can spend less time on repetitive manual tasks, email, and status update meetings, and more time collaborating on work that engages them.

This will clear the smoke in the air, aligning the team in one clear goal. Talking about goals.

Giving teams autonomy and a goal that can be frequently challenged bottom-up is not only key to having happy, engaged people, but it’s also a fundamental trait of functioning product organisations.

Setting your teams up with the budget to discover, deliver and optimize on what the right scope, the right level of quality, the correct amount of risk, the appropriate cost, to achieve the maximum possible amount of impact. Measure teams success as their business impact. Let them pitch new problems and discover new meanings and missions.

Create a process for accountability where you recurrently ask them What people problem are we solving? How do we know it’s a real problem? And how will we know if we’ve solved it?

What… Change?!

When it comes to changing how we work, everything we know about human behaviour hides behind our professional high self-regard. We don’t want to acknowledge how much emotion plays a part. It’s unseemly that even the behaviour of the most analytic people solving the driest problems of technology is rooted in avoiding bad feelings and seeking good.

Change Begins With True Understanding

“Habits are malleable throughout your entire life. But we also know that the best way to change a habit is to understand its structure.” — Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

We realized that the common thread running through all of our workshops was reframing the problem, and then tying it to collaborative practice. Even improving one’s own presentation skills requires the support of colleagues over time. New information is the least part of the instruction.

We try to help each participant identify a new set of cues and rewards in their habitual context, and give them a set of tools, and a way to support one another over time. Aim to create systemic change and enhance fairness by cultivating individual selfishness. Research together reveals the personal and political barriers to evidence-based decision-making, rather than accepting the premise that data changes minds.

Hugo Sarrazin

Co-founder McKinsey Design, Silicon Valley

“Empower that team, the team that knows more about the customer. The team that knows more about what the team could do and if you make it autonomous within some boundaries. You can have some really really special results. The team will perform at a new level, and the quality of the product goes up. It’s scary to let go, as the organization is hierarchical. We’ve built it from the olden days inspired by the military, everything needs to flow all the way up to the top, to people that are promoted based on past behavior and success that supposedly know more. Now… Every time you go up and down this chain. You will have transition layers and it kinda loses critical information. 
Now we are saying, no no… we are going to flip it around and let the people that work closeness to the problem, closeness to the customer. Make the trade-off, within the scope that we agreed, as the scope they can operate on. That what’s make it Agile, that’s what’s makes it speedy, that’s what makes flexible.”

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