Monday, November 24, 2014

Anti-Digital Mindset Symptom: Silo-Thinking

Silo thinking builds the wall in people’s mind and sets barriers in human's heart.

Silo is a universal problem facing businesses, especially large mature organizations or our society today. And most people don't realize how much pain it is causing or the cost to the organization. Now businesses are moving into the hyper-connected, accelerated digital continuum, how to break down silo thinking, and embrace holistic thinking, systems thinking and strategic thinking in building a high-performing organization?

At their heart, silos are not a structural issue:
They are the result of poor thinking; or lack of holistic think, system thinking, and strategic thinking. Managers tend to respond to silos by reorganizing, but this is hardly ever the most important aspect or the place to start. What you need to do is change thinking. From a business perspective, because people are focused inward protecting budgets and power structures rather than focusing outward on customers and problem-solving thinking. Silos are nothing more than the barriers that surface between departments within an organization, causing people who are supposed to be on the same team to work against each other. And whether this phenomenon is called departmental politics, divisional rivalry or turf competition, it is one of the most frustrating aspects of life in any large mature organization.

Silos cause slowness and small-thinking: They are the result of poor strategic thinking and organizational design. A company is made up silos called functions, and the functions rely on company/cross-functional strategy, process, and communication. They are the elephant in the room at every board meeting and daily operation of a company. There are leaders accountable for the business and it depends on their desire/ vision/ ability to get their teams input and commitment to define and implement a 'business plan on a page" as a unified team. The solution to breaking down silo is to apply bigger thinking -to implement an effective cross-silo strategy, better integral process, and collaborative communication.

Silos can start, and flourish, under the poor leadership thinking: Silos will always exist. Isolation of teams limits creativity as well as duplication of efforts resulting in wasting valuable resources especially when you are always facing tight timelines. This is definitely a reflection of poor leadership thinking (too much focus on efficiency thinking, not on effectiveness thinking; lack of creativity, etc), to break down silos, digital leaders have to not only provide clear process guidelines but see that the teams are embracing cross-functional collaboration and taking customer-centric effort as well.

Leveraging "self-interest" can be very powerful in unifying silos –or WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) thinking. Silos will be inevitable as long as the rewards for collaboration are outweighed by the rewards for competition. If a manager sees his/her success measured against the manager in the next office ( another silo), rather than sharing expertise to the overall benefit of the organization, then he/she will be inclined to erect barriers to stop collaboration.

The mitigation (not a solution) is to leverage the self-interest that causes them and undermines the silo mentality by fostering social / business networks of "self-interest" or common interest across silos. Take functionally tailored approaches, such as apply incentive compensation for employees in revenue-producing functions, internal digital forums for customer service, and social networks as a mechanism for cross-functional/ cross-silo unification,

Silo thinking builds the wall in people’s mind and set barriers to organizational communication and collaboration, it is an anti-digital thinking symptom, only through effective digital leadership, more dynamic business processes and the latest digital social collaboration technologies and tools, the silo can be crossed over and bridged through, business can be running at full speed, and human society can move forward in harmony.


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