POPin Blog

Back To The Future? How To NOT Get Trapped In A Silo

We love a good pop culture reference and nothing seems to be hotter than October’s “Back to the Future” Day. (For the uninitiated, October 21, 2015 is the date that our beloved Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to in Back to the Future 2.) Of course, in the original film, Marty is sent back in time to 1955 and works tirelessly to repair various damages to history. Naturally, after a weekend of binge watching, it got us thinking about what we would fix if we could go back in time. And so aside from preventing The Hindenburg, polio and all music from the disco era, we wondered if you could start over, how could you prevent a siloed organization? Silos aren’t born – they are made and small businesses know it better as non-communication and incompatible goal-setting between departments, as well as “intra-company snobbery and outright hostility between business functions. In other words, turf battles and power struggles among employees and departments within your own business.”
  1. Focus on Alignment. Employees need to understand their roles and what they do to help the organization succeed, but they also need to understand what’s happening in the cube, office or building next door. Departments and teams need to know how they support or influence other areas of your company. They need to understand the importance of working in concert with other areas and people to achieve your company’s ultimate goals.
  2. Focus on Opportunity, not Crisis: While crisis can be a catalyst for action, fear also can send people running for the door. If you frame the organization’s need to break down silos as a positive opportunity, you will see more people raising their hand to do it. Help people in different divisions understand how they have a chance to make the organization better and more powerful by eliminating the barriers between divisions or management levels.
  3. Focus on the Customer. Nothing is more important than staying close to your customers. Unfortunately, with a silo mentality the focus is typically on internal issues rather than on customers. Be sure to focus the organization by sharing marketplace information and customer feedback. Even more effective? Get your customers involved. Have them share their experience so that everyone understands how the business as a whole is meeting, exceeding or missing customer expectations.
  4. Focus on Variety. Encourage teams from different areas to work together. Find opportunities for employees to collaborate in cross-functional teams and rotate personnel in various positions throughout the organization.