Workplace silo: “A system, process, department, etc. that operates in isolation from others.”(Oxford Dictionaries)
We have all run up against silos in the workplace. We may have railed against their lack of responsiveness, cooperation or incomprehensible procedures. Or perhaps we have worked in a silo, enjoying the “us vs. them” camaraderie while lamenting the unreasonable demands of others. Silos exist when departments or areas fail to cooperate and share useful information with others within the same district. No matter the origin or structure of silos, they limit communication, collaboration and a district’s ability to productively address issues or needs that cut across departments.
It’s relatively easy to identify the problems that silos create, but do we know what to do about them? Recognizing a silo is a first step – but breaking them down is a whole different story. Most experts suggest some variation of getting people to collaborate and work together towards a common vision, project, or goal that requires involvement across silos. Conceptually this makes sense, but in practice it is more easily said than accomplished. Without a way to manage involvement and direct the work, there is huge potential for conflict and dysfunction.
District 11 (Colorado Springs) used TregoED strategies to tackle silos by providing a framework for managing input, analysis, and collaboration. They used SCAN (Kepner-Tregoe’s Situation Appraisal) to overcome the limits of silos and began changing the status quo. Read a case study documenting their success in the most recent edition of the Journal of the Grant Professionals Association.
What silo-defying strategies have you found effective?