Don't Blame the Silos

June 04 2017
By: Terry L. Mathis

Many of my consulting projects begin with a senior manager explaining how the problems they are experiencing are due to silos in the organization. While many organizational designs create silos of function or expertise, these silos themselves are seldom the real problem. A certain amount of specialization is healthy and often necessary.

Don't Blame the Silos

The problems are more often issues of cooperation and communication. When those in a silo begin to feel their loyalty and function should be reserved for their own department, external interactions can be weak or non-existent. Silos can contain expertise without creating isolation. Using generalists versus subject-matter experts is one way we've built successful multi-functional teams. Another is to create project budgets independent of department budgets, avoiding the "we own this because we are paying for it" scenario.

Don't automatically try to demolish your silos, but don't allow them to become fortresses and turn your culture into a feudal system.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

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