Last Updated Sep 24, 2008 12:27 PM EDT
And they did. But most of the cross talk was within business units or among peers. Cross-company contact? Not so much.
"We were surprised by how little interaction occurs across three major boundaries: the strategic business unit, the organizational function, and the geographic office location," says HBS professor Toby Stuart in an interview with HBS Working Knowledge.
Wasn't modern digital technology supposed to usher in an unparalleled era of corporate communication, collaboration, and productivity? Where are all those weak-tied, silo-busting social networks? The authors don't attempt in this study to explain why companies are so hardened in their silos, but their exploration into the "soft wiring" of the modern multinational corporation is fascinating none the less.
To The Servers!
Stuart suggests that executives audit their own company information flows by doing what the research team did: analyze server logs. Says he:
"It can identify the key personnel, functions, divisions, and so forth that bridge the islands of interaction in the firm. It uncovers pairs of organizational units that fail to interact in a meaningful way, or isolated units that are not integrated into the social fabric of the broader organization. And it can illustrate whether lateral coordinating mechanisms put into place by senior management are taking hold in the organization."How is the cross talk in your work environment? Have you broken down the barriers? Or is the silo alive and well?