THE SILO EFFECT
The title of Gillian Tett’s, ‘The Silo Effect’, might seem to fall into every business buzzword cliché, but you would be misled in your assumption. Tett’s aim is not to add “silo” to the corporate glossary of “disruption”, “strategy” and more. In fact, perhaps with perfect irony, she wrote ‘The Silo Effect’ with the aim of breaking through this pattern.
‘The Silo Effect’ doesn’t bore you in the same way other business literature does. Instead, it introduces a startling paradox for the globalised world: as we build a broadening business community, our business culture grows divided and isolated.
DIVISION OF LABOUR
In a market economy that still revolves around Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’, the principles of ‘division of labour’ are not unsettling for large corporations. However, Gillian Tett uses the term ‘division’ negatively and suggests that hyper-division results in fractured organisations and divided perspectives called; Silos.
Divisions are undoubtedly successful at gathering together the specialists and channelling efficiency. However, efficiency does not always equate to effectiveness. The tendency for hyper-division within companies can breed an internal sense of competition that become ingrained in the company mindset. When rivalry is the motivator for productivity, departments become output focused and easily lose sight of the organisation’s wider strategy and purpose.
Business culture must be considered from an Anthropologist’s perspective. Management must detach themselves from the Adam Smith assumptions, and re-evaluate the current reality of the business.
According to Paul Tucker, ex-deputy governor of the Bank of England, the breaking down of mental and structural silos is “about having a curiosity and a generosity of spirit to listen to others”. Businesses need to positively align into one communicating and collaborative body, that will inevitably promote productivity.
By harnessing Tools such as Gossip Success and Line of One, you are able to change the energy and attitude of the people around you, break down silo’s and encourage collaboration. It is easier to work together than to work against each other. People who share a Vision and live their values, stand by each other not just when they are strong, but in times of weakness.
When you encourage collaboration across divisions you create open, honest conversations and people with the resourcefulness to tackle breakdowns.