Posted by: kenwbudd | June 20, 2009

Tilting at Silos! Aim High

Business Silos – Normally thought of as perpendicular columns formed from one particular business function, product group or demographic type and as such, they can easily become entrenched, insular and highly defensive.

They are currently discouraged but do have a tendency to self-repair and re-form.

Pack Mentality
If your silos are aggressively defended they can be described as having an almost predatorial ‘pack’ mentality. You will need to match that aggression in your efforts to depose and you will need to confront and overome the Alpha ‘head’.

Herd Mentality
If they are more defensive and introspective then they will be more ‘herd’ like and easier to break up and disperse into smaller less threatening numbers.

Remember, both groups will have a cascading structure of leadership with normally one Alpha type at the head.

Taking the Power
In the parlance of ancient mythology, you need to remove the head of the Medusa or the many heads of the more resilient, Hydra, to remove th epower of the beast. Remember at this point you will have a rather large smelly body on your hands that is dead-weight and blocking your path. So, be sure you have considered the impact of your deeds and have strategic plans for disposal or re-structuring.

Supporting Structure
Consider the supporting structure. Some silos are better constructed than others. The ‘assisting’ heads will defend the ‘head’, by rhetoric if not by deads, because it feeds and protects them but there will be many among them that will replace the head with theirs, if it topples. Consider what incentives would encourage this behaviour.

This is the way of all things, business.

Cross-agency Silos
Although cross-agency silos do exist in large organisations, silos and silo-like mentality are not conducive to flexibility or cross enterprise co-operation and communications. They also inhibit change and diversity whilst at the same time as retaining bad practices and transparency. Both are an anathema in today’s business worlds. Clearly there will be exceptions to this but many a good manager or CIO has fallen foul of tilting at these ‘windmills’.

Government Silos
Both National and Local Government are excellent places to find entrenched silos, as are politically formed international organisations e.g. the UN, NATO, etc. These dinosaurs move slowly and carefully, arguably this is so they will not topple too many silos along the way but it does severely limit their capability and effectiveness.

There is much written about the persistance of silos, there ability to disband, form and re-form when broken up. The nature of silos is the nature of humanity and their ability to form cohesive bonds, support each other and form long chains of personal networks and how many of us have not been part of this and dependent on it, at some time in their career. The ease of communications that we enjoy today is beneficial and insistant in keeping this alive.

Open Government
We would all love to see more openess in government, with more information being made accessible to the public and the current upheaval in the UK about Political Expense account violations, is clear evidence of why we should continue to pursue transparency in government and civil services.

Silos stand still
Silos do exist and will persist, like poverty and criminality they should be openly opposed and discouraged in all their forms, except of course when they offer us a beneficial step up the fickle ladder of our business careers, allegedly.


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