Enigma of Silos…!

“Silo builds the wall in people’s minds and creates the barrier in organizations’ “hearts.”
Pearl Zhu,

www.wikipedia.org

Organizational silos are like cultivated citadels within a company.

Last week, I had an intense discussion on this topic with the Managing Director of a large manufacturing organization in Mumbai. While sipping revitalising Yorkshire Tea, inside his well-ornamented sea-facing office at Nariman Point , I could feel his raw vulnerability in infuriated outburst.  “I don’t see that it’s worth my time to act like an umpire between my HODs. They are the ones that make things happen around here and shockingly, same HODs are incapable of getting along like two grown-up mature adults. They are behaving so childish. Honestly, I do not have luxury of time to waste on such petty issues.”

I instinctively asked him, “Who is responsible? Who has let allowed such bargained and warped relationship concreted among them ? Who should be blamed for this quandary?”

Silos are usually defined as groups of employees that lean towards working as self-regulated units within an organization. Essentially, when employees are left to their own comfort zones, they tend to get colonized and ingrain their own distinctly insulated culture within the organization. Often, the forbidding caustic influence of such silos indefensibly pedestals dysfunctionalities in most organizations. Conceivably, silos are manifested symptoms of a larger embryonic organizational disorder. These contagious symptoms creep-in gently and then spread-over the organization as a “cure-resistant” ailment.  

The intimidating enigma of silos has been argued and debated in brooding corporate board rooms for eras without twigging to any comprehensible antidote. Silos, in reality, are tolerated disobedient excuses. We can easily conclude that an organizational culture that tolerates or emboldens silos, often gets wedged up in the vortex of personality linked skirmishes. 

An effective leader always try to put an end to silos in the organization so as to circumvent following direct repercussions:

  • Breeding of brutishly inward looking coteries

  • Tangled priorities

  • Restricted optimization of individual potential

  • Controlled flow of obligatory information

  • Clogging of synchronized decision making

  • Unnecessary crowd-piling (of scares resources)

  • Engendering distrust and reinforcement of self-focused defiance

  • Creating ghoulish competition

  • Condensed positivity.

  • Blurred functional transparency

  • Lumping spirit of co-creation, cooperation, and agile culture

  • Nourishing power starved characters

  • Exasperating unbiased employees

For me, functional silos are not accidental and do not emerge overnight.

The provenance is always at the top of the organization and lashes downwards as spiteful streams in the hierarchy.

The big question is: Are we unintentionally encouraging and rewarding people for effectively manipulating organizational vulnerabilities? Sometimes, the competing work climate and scientifically micro-calibrated reward system in the organization, inadvertently amplify juvenile behavior in the organization.

The territorial hostilities are result of unconsciously fostered belligerent leadership team at the top that essentially echoes the conceded moral beliefs in the organization. Perhaps, the silos are an unscrupulous leakage of supremacy tournaments. Besides, even power-mongered employees of the siloed functions, get their bosses’ tacit backing for the advantage of nursing their fiefdoms. Unfortunately, the pretentious and despotic leadership of the company, securely attributes it to functional incompetence, indistinct cross-functional processes, immaturity of people, and poor team work. Of course, these factors do play a significant role in compartmentalization of the work culture, but (predominantly) leadership team is singularly accountable for humanizing an effective resolution for such issues.

So, what a CEO should do to win-over the underwired silo mind-sets:

  • Build a shared unified purpose in the organization

  • Tear-off silos by being transparent and talking straight  

  • Shift focus from “me & my department” to “organization” first

  • Stop rewarding only “vertical excellence” in the organization

  • Encourage multiple horizontal team projects with common goals

  • Educate employees to dismantle (psychological) functional boundaries

  • Introduce planned rotation to avoid people becoming a tribe.

  • Encourage common celebration-platforms to enhance social networking

  • Reassure people to share and accept their mistakes

  • Redirect an “internally competitive” mind-set to prove the edge over competition

  • Nip it early, before it gets institutionalized

  • Confront hard with the pollutants responsible for surreptitiously engineering silos

Everything ultimately boils down to the leadership and sharing culture in the organization. Providing an enjoyable and seamless organization culture should be enough motivation for people to rally around a common purpose.

Yes! It is a tough cultural challenge to address silos. Often, an organization does not have maturity and systematic processes of questioning such behaviour. Yet, the leadership team is singularly responsible for creating a work environment that enables engagement, empowerment, cooperation, and innovation.They are accountable for transforming an organization from fraternity-entrenched work climate to highly integrated agile work climate. 

Want to challenge the status quo?

Let’s have a probing dialogue. My reflections will certainly enable you to pinhole the bulging dysfunctionality in your organization.

 

 

Cultural Transformation: Don’t Miss The Blindingly Obvious!

“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day”

– Frances Hesselbein


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Regrettably, almost 75% of organizational transformations downright fail.

I remember advising on this topic to a large “top-down” jaundiced client organization, best known in Industry for arbitrarily thrusting tactical commands upon dispassionate employees. Often that led to poorly executed projects, brusquely frenzied debates, unintended delays, and duplications. Leadership of the company was never in sync with the unfulfilled employees and their real issues. Customarily, culture in that company, remained an underleveraged cog in the revenue generating wheel.

Unexpectedly, most of the business leaders, hardly appreciate the incredible clout of an energized culture while dealing with the increased business complexities. It is not that easy to comprehend how to leverage and transform prevailing culture to enhance the success on the ground. It needs conjuring of an elusive “wake-up” intuition that the culture of a company can chew away the best crafted strategies. Largely, leaders of such organizations are far-off with regard to what they assume as their culture and the ground level realities.Probably, they try and acclimatize with the looming challenges by taking chances.

The first preparatory step in a culture change initiative is to find out what is “working” and “not working” in the organisation. Following tips are critical for attaining cultural advantage in any business. The pointers might sound obvious but are all exceptionally important.

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(Finally, you need to be tolerant. Transformation initiatives do take time. Even in the face of obvious reasons for transformation, an organization can be impervious to change. Prevalent culture in any organization is a familiar fusing medium for employees. Therefore, any change is perceived as intimidating)

When you objectively study the culture of an organization, you will realize that  it is (loosely) both- an independent (or causal or dispositional) and also a dependent variable. If it can seriously power and ignite the committed performance of the people,  enhances obedience towards formal systems & processes in the organization, it can equally be “energized” by constructive behaviour, respect for formal systems & processes, overall performance of the organization, and so on.

It is animatedly intertwined!

I hope that you will find this piece useful and that you will not commit similar slip-ups. Please bounce back your ideas and plans in case you too are embarking on similar journey.

Half-Baked Change: An Episodic Approach Towards Organizational Transformation Clouds Its Purpose.

People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed!

– Peter Senge

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One of my client organizations when began to work at weighing various possible alternatives to fast-swell their growth objectives, the congenital promoter, obsessively pitched for the idea of acquisition. It took sensible time to convince him not to hasten such moves to avoid a disappointing bearing over the already hard-won achievements. Providentially, after collective deliberations for days together, the entire apex team could recognize that any acquisition at that stage would be suicidal for the financial health of the organization. Rather, enterprise-wide business process reengineering was a much more relevant option to sharpen the blunt edges of the organizational systems at that time.

Any failed transformational initiative often offers an occasion to the people to be contemptuous and cynical about the whole thing. A change program usually takes long time and is not an unobtrusive process. With increasing business complexities, change is getting harder. It is exactly like the folklore of elephant and blind men. We all talk about transformation but very few actually know “What it is and How to do it”. Our distinctive choices can be ‘correct’ from our individual perspectives, but characteristically restricted by our inability to apprehend the totality of the truth. My current blog is about Change management. How an episodic approach towards organizational transformation clouds its purpose. Continue reading