Last Updated Mar 10, 2010 10:54 AM EST
It is here that all good thoughts of collaboration come to die.
Silos are tough to destroy short of an ugly scorch-the-earth reorg. So when management gurus advise you to "break down the silos!" -- the corporate boundaries that stand between you, your customers, and innovation -- think bridges, not hammers.
Ranjay Gulati, a Harvard Business School expert on how organizations work (or don't), puts it this way in a recent interview with livemint.com.
"You need to find ways to connect all the silos in your organization. This would involve task forces and working groups. Companies need to bridge all the silos through their employees. You cannot mandate it.""Connect all the silos" is the key idea here. Here are three ways to build these necessary bridges.
- Empowering. In traditional organizations, information was power, so it was locked away by the holders of that information like a king protected gold in his depository. Today, information must be shared to be of any use, says Gulati. "Businesses must ensure that their people in various units have access to knowledge about the customers they are catering to and have opportunities to use that knowledge to better serve the marketplace."
- Hiring. As you hire, look for people who value collaboration over turf building, who enjoy team work over solo endeavors. Organizational behavior changes one hire at a time.
- Rewarding. The organization needs to motivate collaborative behavior. "Your employees must be encouraged to bust through silos when necessary and should be rewarded for collaborations that produce successful customer solutions," Gulati writes.
What's your plan of attack for silo busting?