Enigma of Silos…!

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

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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.

 

 

Welder’s Flash: Why a Startup fails / The People Side…!

‘It isn’t the mountain ahead to climb that wear you out; it is the pebble in your shoe’

-Muhammad Ali

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Have you ever witnessed a welding process?

A picture of penetrative glaring iridescent light will materialize in our thoughts.

Welder’s flash, an irritation of the cornea, is caused by ultraviolet radiation from the arc during welding. The willing victim is habitually oblivious that he has been significantly wide-open to a likely damage until several hours later.

Same is with Startups. If there’s anything that can drown a venture, it is the founder’s passion. The golden rule that “chasing your passion indemnities success”, is almost like nursing a gritty arc-eye. Passion alone isn’t enough to craft your success map, because in any Startup, success is achieved by programed actions and hard work of entire team. Founder’s passion, the most indispensable prerequisite, may turned out to be a crucial cause of an adverse impairment.

We are in very exiting times for entrepreneurial ventures. Until very recently, there has never been so many role models for “24/7 Plugged-in Young Minds” ever before. Success stories are frolicked at every corner. Confident and ambitious young minds are no more afraid to question conventional epitomes for pursuing a meaningful challenge in life. Yet, many Startups have evaporated within first few years of the launch. Why? Continue reading

Et tu Brute….!

Trust… Is it just a tattered thread in the deceptive corporate fabric?

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“Et tu, Brute?” the axiom is often used philosophically to epitomize the betrayal of the trust. The phrase turned legendary, due to William Shakespeare’s play, as the last words of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar to his devoted friend Marcus Brutus at the time of his assassination. Literally the catchphrase translates to “And you, Brutus?” or “You too, Brutus?”The irony is when we deceive someone’s trust, first unconsciously we betray ourselves.

How often do we encounter Brutus in our life? Continue reading