Information freedom: why you should smash those corporate silos

Information freedom: why you should smash those corporate silos

Feeling siloed?

Let me tell you a sad story. The story begins in a meeting room, where a group of people are sitting around and chatting about a document. In its current form, the document doesn’t allow for new processes and needs to be changed. Over gallons of coffee and chocolate, they decide that multiple documents need to be created to accomplish their intended goal. The meeting is adjourned.

Meanwhile, another group of people who actually manage these documents are going about their normal day. Changing this document would seem absurd to this group. Change what? The document is “just fine” as it is.

The change process though, rolls on. Lawyers are consulted, fees are paid and the old document became two brand new ones. The finals are added into the existing. A few weeks after the release of the new documents, the group of people in charge of managing them, receives their first signed one. And then… a bombshell.

Two versions? Of the same document? “Couldn’t you have just added a sentence instead?” The first group was dumbfounded at this revelation. “We had no idea about that.”

The silo strikes again.

It’s not that the first group of people are unintelligent; far from it. They were just missing information. Now all they have to show for it is hundreds of wasted dollars and wasted time.

Amazing in our world of fast communication how inter-office communication breakdowns are frequent, time consuming, costly, and demoralizing. So why then does it still happen? First, it’s important to talk about the term Silo Thinking.

Silo thinking – why it’s bad for your health.

According to the Process Blog silo thinking is

When everyone in an organization is organized and works around the concept of individual functions or departments. This encourages introversion and also decreases efficiency.


Psychologists suggests that this silo mentality is heavily influenced by the existing company culture. According to Chad from his Mind Exchange blog post:

… if a work environment does not protect the psychological possibility of being part of the broader success of the company, Managers will become self-interested in protecting their department and his or her employees are more likely to become focused on their own personal achievement.

I’ve mentioned it many times on this blog. The culture of an organization determines its success. If everyone in an organization shared the same goals and collaborated towards it, the silos would come crashing down.

Here’s a case in point.

In today’s social business world, customers want fast reactions. In a siloed organization, a department in charge of customer support might brag about their fast response times but since they aren’t kept up to date on the newest policies often can’t make correct decisions. Morale suffers as they feel like they have little freedom to act on their own – especially since they know what must be done.

In a social business culture, since the customer support team collaborates with decision makers they are influencing policy that can benefit both customers and the support staff. Since they are aware of the company’s goals, they can make most decisions on their own, which will increase their response times while making correct decisions.

As an organization can you make these pieces fit together?

Break down the silos and be a better company.

According to Gini Dietrich:

It isn’t going to be easy. It’s a big culture change. And people hate change. But it can be done. It needs to be done.


As humans we all know stuff. Our interests lie everywhere. Our own experiences in life and the workplace shape us. Tapping into that rich potential can only make for a better, less-selfish work environment.

What do you think?

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    There are many changes happening in today’s business world that we’ve never had to face. Technology is coming at us so quickly, most can barely keep up. And yet, business continues to be run as if we’re still in the industrial age. The organizations that will win are those that are fast, flexible, and nimble, which equates to having no internal silos.

    • http://www.bsitko.com Bill Szczytko

      So right Gini. Technology changes are quick and we have to react quickly to stay relevant. Hope you don’t mind that I quoted you in this article last year. Your post inspired me as culture and culture changes are always top of my mind. Thanks for commenting.

      • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

        I don’t mind one bit – thank you for it! I’m sorry I’m just getting here now. I missed it in my alerts last summer!