Defusing Organizational Silos Through Competent Collaboration
Meeting the organizational and technological challenges of globalization often requires stronger decision-making and workforce cooperation in modern business cultures.
Organizational silos as much as individual achievers who look after their own standings can hinder such progress. As companies scale, staff find it harder to get to know and trust their colleagues elsewhere. Many will form close-knit groups who may eventually find it in their interest to resist change, by setting up insular barriers to broader collaboration.
These in-groups can represent a single department or expand to encompass larger factions. They can develop among higher staff and frontline colleagues, occur geographically between indifferent offices. Siloed employees may eventually evolve more loyalty to their factional interests over that of their employer.
One effective strategy in lessening silo growth is the Work-Out concept first articulated by renowned CEO Jack Welch. This approach removes boundaries by encouraging people from different functional, hierarchical, and geographical units to engage in talks that are facilitated to help them make problem-solving decisions together.
Major corporations such as Dubai Airports have successfully pushed Work Out initiatives, enjoining even contractor and governmental workforces identified as external stakeholders to participate:
Firms value the operational advantages of having business functions and experts dispersed among various centers of excellence for flexible reassignment.
Managers can encourage more innovation by enabling competent people to work together at productive tasks with fewer organizational hurdles.
Successful Work-Out is carried out through the following actions:
- Form a consensus to encourage collaborative problem-solving that breaks down silos.
- Commission neutral facilitators to lead the sessions.
- Define a compelling case for innovative problem-solving in a critical issue that needs immediate resolution.
- Recognize team leaders, experts, and other stakeholders who can contribute positively.
- Identify and empower a senior executive with enough authority to make on-the-fly decisions.
- Bring all stakeholders working on program aspects together for the duration.
- Facilitate team leaders into circulating, in real time, all information that bears on decisions to be made, while inviting useful inputs from various people.
- Present actionable recommendations at a “town meeting” by the second day, at which the senior executive then decides on the merits of various proposals.
- Recognize and disseminate the lessons of a good Work Out, to encourage others to follow the example of effective cross-functional teamwork.
- Establish a high-level committee tasked with overcoming the effects of organizational silos through the establishment of more cooperative procedures.
The aim is to encourage cross-functional behaviors where sprawling problems can be resolved via effective consensus. With management’s support, this approach can re-instill the kind of trustful relationships that are critical to dynamic and productive workplaces.