Connecting Silos: Solving the Problem of Organizational Silos Using a Simple Systems Thinking Approach

Organizational silos lead to a range of harmful results from decreased employee engagement, and therefore, reduce organizational effectiveness. Silos are the result of a naturally-forming need to distinguish between systems and their functions.

How can organizations benefit from the need to divide tasks, employees, workflows, and functions to create manageable boundaries without succumbing to the negative effects of silos? How can organizations both differentiate and integrate different people, teams, initiatives, products, departments, divisions, and even enterprises to accomplish better workflows and better results? How can organizations inoculate themselves against silo-fication?

In organizations, the term silo has negative connotations in which people, teams, initiatives, projects, products, whole departments or divisions, or even enterprises, are separated from each other, sometimes at great costs to organizational effectiveness and results.

We create divisions and/or departments in order to break things down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Breaking things down in this way naturally creates boundaries which may or may not become silos. The point is that the presence of these boundaries is not what creates silos, but instead, it is the absence of relationships between and among functional areas that create silos. The goal then is not to abolish the function of boundaries but to establish boundaries in such a way as to prevent them from become impermeable, impenetrable, or siloed. The solution is simple: the antidote to silos is relationships.

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