“We completely eliminated our organizational silos!” said no company ever. So what if…
… You stop trying to break down silos,
And instead, you connect them?
I grew up in a rural farming community. With that as a background, every time I hear talk of organizational silos, I have a visual of the blue Harvestore behemoths that dotted the countryside around my hometown.
Silos in farming are critical. They serve a necessary purpose to contain and preserve the crop and prevent rot.
This past weekend when I was back in Illinois, one of my walks took me past these new silos (sadly not Harvestore blue).
What is different from the silos of old?
They are connected.
If I had a quarter for every time I heard “We need to break down our silos!” in an organization, I’d be well-set for retirement.
Breaking down silos never works.
Because silos are necessary.
Silos in business are the areas of expertise. Whether organized by function or business unit or some other arrangement, silos exist because they are their own little libraries of knowledge and collective identity.
No matter how many reorgs you do or communication mechanisms you create, the 𝘴𝘪𝘭𝘰𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘯.
Silos do create an issue. But the issue isn’t their existence.
The issue is the lack of connection between them. THAT is where silos cause negative impacts on the business–when they aren’t communicating and collaborating.
So instead of trying to break that which will not be broken, address the real problem:
Get your silos connected.
How? Well, it’ll take more than a grain elevator.
- Start with your executive team–by building trust, cohesion, and behavioral alignment across the leaders of each silo.
👉 This requires time, intention, structure, and accountability–the focus of my signature executive team program, The Compass Team Experience.
- Set expectations with the executives to cascade the behaviors of collaboration across and down.
- Give them the tools to facilitate the cascade.
- Hold them accountable for the behaviors you’ve aligned on.
And then watch the connections build, and the magic happen.
The connections might not be as striking as an old-fashioned Harvestore blue silo, but they’ll be just as critical.
I’m open to being challenged on this! Can silos be broken or is it about connecting them? What do you think?
I’m a leadership team whisperer, executive coach, and speaker. I guide leadership teams in high-growth companies to achieve rapid growth in a healthy, sustainable way. I coach senior leaders to discover the path to lead with ease. Want to chat? Click here.