Friday, February 8, 2019

Three-Step Scenario to Break Down Silos

Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, and collaboration amplifies the collective competency to achieve high business performance.

There are different definitions of silo. The segmenting or sectioning of work by skill/knowledge/type/etc is a necessary component of business operations. However, silo mentality and silo management often mean keeping people’s mind static, keeping people separate rather than keeping work separate. It sets barriers to changes, decrease business effectiveness and efficiency, and decelerate the speed of the organization. What is the rational scenario to break down silos for streamlining business flow, and unlocking individual and group potential?

Foster cross-functional communication and collaboration: With silo mentality, organizations lose their collaborative advantage as they are being over managed and under led, remain disconnected, hoard knowledge and power within their tribes, and do not have the competence to collaborate in the long term. Organizations, like individuals, need to be in flow to operate smoothly and adapt to changes with fewer frictions. From the business management perspective, silo happens when the “Big Why” - the strategic perspective of the business is not properly communicated from the top level management down through business units. Today’s organizations are the mixed bag of old and new, different functions within an organization perhaps hit different learning curves and run at different speed. To break down silos, it’s important for the management applying a bigger thinking box, setting the proper guidelines and integrated processes, encouraging cross-functional communication and collaboration, and keeping information flow with verification. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, and collaborations amplify the collective business competency to achieve better than expected business performance.

Raise everybody's level of accountability: When teams don't have control or get stuck at the silo, they use that lack of control to put on a victim mentality and claim not accountability. Silo sets the barriers to real problem-solving because people are not comfortable to go across the territories for digging into the root causes, they just get stuck at “we always do things like that” mentality. Silo happens when the business operates from a fear standpoint - fear of rejection, fear of invisibility, fear that other peoples' accomplishments will somehow diminish your own. Therefore, to break down the silo, it’s important to raise everybody’s level of accountability. True accountability focuses on learning to do things differently, solve real problems in a better way or make good decisions that consider consequences to others as well. Shared accountability or collective accountability involves shared ownership, clear-defined goals, and empathetic communication. Behaving accountable is the result of the culture that needs to be organized and nurtured.

Drive business growth and innovation that is relevant to the bigger picture: Either change or innovation nowadays is rarely an individual action; rather, it is the collaborative effort. It often needs to work across multiple functional silos, and even collaborate with a business ecosystem. The challenge is to understand where and how you can and should improve to get the biggest effect and scale up innovation practices across the digital ecosystem. Keep in mind, innovation success is not accidental, but a differentiated business competency which needs to be developed through a multitude of management disciplines, structures, processes, and practices. To scale up and amplify change effect, it’s strategic imperative to drive innovation that is relevant to the bigger picture, match up business vision and tailor their own need to develop a set of best or next practices in a structural way. Looking uphill can help to identify the real problems that matter, and on a scale that can make a difference. This requires an effective 'innovation ecosystem' that is capable of supporting both widespread incremental innovation in products/services and the rarer breakthrough innovations, tailored working methodologies, business models, and market positioning.

Digital is about hyperconnectivity - the opposite of silos. From the business management perspective, it means to have better opportunities for connecting the dots across the geographical, functional, organizational, industrial, or generational boundaries. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, and collaboration amplifies the collective capability to achieve high business performance. Digital organizations today aim to move into a more advanced stage of digital deployment by bridging silos and tailoring their own unique strength and business capability, to reach the equilibrium state of flow and the premium level of digital maturity.


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