Breaking silos in the 21st century company

When a company grows large, it needs to be structured into departments in order to be more efficient. It then begins to put together a series of procedures that the entire organization has to follow. So far so good.

The problems start when those departments super-specialize. Then they tend to focus exclusively on what they do and lose the global perspective of the organization. When this phenomenon becomes general, the famous ‘silo effect’ appears. Then, they begin to work in isolation, without transfers or flows of information between them. According to a study by PwC, half of the companies work with silos.

The antidote to reducing or eliminating silos is collaboration. In this hyper-connected world we live in, collaboration has become a true management obsession.

Three manifestations of business collaboration.

The current remote or hybrid work does not help to eliminate silos between different teams or departments. This is so because social interactions between people are reduced as presence is reduced. But, on the other hand, today there are very few processes or projects that remain in a single department.

In this environment, it is imperative that leaders promote collaboration. First of all, between colleagues, because it’s not about competing between departments, it’s about cooperating between colleagues. And secondly, and there is the key, within the teams. In this sense, you should bear in mind that there are three types of collaboration or cooperation.

  • Intra-departmental collaboration: Between members of the same team. It is the easiest to get because you all belong to the same tribe.
  • Inter-departmental collaboration: This is more complicated because it affects different tribes. Here the work that is done between leaders is important
  • Open collaboration: This is the future of business. Alliances are sought to win, between different companies. 

Three ways to break silos in a hybrid organization.

One of the great challenges for companies is to break down the walls that exist between departments. For them we propose three very simple formulas, applicable to any organization.

  • Collaborative technology. Today technology is an ideal way to foster collaboration between teams. That’s more powerful when you integrate office automation, file management, and communication on a single cloud platform. Right now, you can opt for either Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. Many companies implement them exclusively from a Tech perspective. But for teams to embrace it and take advantage of its full potential, you need to put together adequate change management, promoting workshops that accelerate its adaptation in transversal business processes.
  • Collaborative methodology. In the first place, you must adopt adequate management by processes and by projects. In every organization, there are departments that work more on processes – they are more in exploitation – with others that work more on projects – more oriented towards exploration-. For both to feel integrated, it is very important that you have a very structured process map – defining a ‘main owner’ for each of them, but also adequate project governance. In the latter case, the adoption of project management technology such as Jira or Monday, for example, will help you a lot.
  • Collaborative leadership. Collaboration needs leaders who promote it with methodology. Training those leaders and creating human capital management projects will help you. In this regard, there are very interesting experiences. For example, a company decided to promote collaboration between functional areas by assigning ‘ambassadors’ from each department so that they could coexist for a time in others. Another experimented in the same way between the lines of operations and the corporate one, with the aim of increasing mutual knowledge and understanding, the seed of collaboration. Another created an internal recognition system for those people who demonstrated that they had made a greater donation of knowledge to the outside of their department. In any case, the HR departments have a very relevant role in this process.

Finally, remember that a company that does not encourage internal collaboration has too many numbers to succumb to internal bureaucracy and end up being uncompetitive. The prelude to his disappearance.