If your team is asked to work with another team, or your department needs to collaborate with another to accomplish work, it can result in a ‘Capulet and Montague’ situation. Not only is there little collaboration or cooperation, there is some downright animosity. Silos get built and – and just like in fair Verona, the walls are thick and sturdy.
If you hear people talk about silos at work, it’s usually with a negative slant – the implication is that silos are bad. A silo in the workplace is the team or department that works together to accomplish specific goals and objectives. The very thing that makes silo’s work – good team cohesion, – can be the very thing that makes them problematic. If the success of the Capulets depend on all of us “working together, it’s going to pull us off course if we are asked to help out the Montagues
Effective silos obstruct effective work practices and keep people from sharing knowledge, ideas and resources. Without a good flow of information to various parts of the organization, the best practices aren’t leveraged. In projects, silos create a territorial focus that put the Capulet team or the Montague department’s needs ahead of the organizations. The focus becomes one of political advantage rather than organizational success.
With so much information available and more on its way every day, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the things one can know. Even if it’s all useful, the amount of information we are expected to handle can overpower the best of us.
It may be useful to stick to what you know, focus on your strengths and let other people focus on theirs. You could think of it more as protection for information overload rather than a silo.
So what’s the difference between a bad silo and a good silo?
Maybe it’s as simple as the bad silo being imposed on you and the good silo being imposed by you. If you build a silo, you can probably tear it down if you want to. Many of the people I observe these days have doors and windows on the silos they build themselves. It makes it much easier for them to see out—and invite people in.
We can stick with the Montagues or the Capulets if we want to – but if they have a great party, it might be beneficial to attend. You never know who you might meet!