The Silo Mentality
The Silo Mentality occurs when different sectors of the same organization are unwilling to work smoothly with one another. IT can be considered as one of the root causes of this silo mentality.
This mindset can become so deeply ingrained that certain departments refuse to share information with other departments, creating an us-against-them scenario in organizations.
IT played an all-important role in the creation of operational silos. The evolution of IT systems led to concentrated growth in specific areas of operations within an organization called "silos". This resulted in operations with incoherent and broken processes across the organization.
While operational silos don't look so damaging at first glance, they inadvertently undermine overall productivity, lower employee morale, and erode a positive work culture. Operational silos don't necessarily occur because staff are trying to make life difficult; it simply occurs when staff prioritize their team members and getting work done over all other members of the organization. Subconsciously, this builds up, and silos arise in several sectors of the organization.
A cohesive leadership team will foster empowerment, build trust, and help managers shift from a mindset of "my department" to one of "our organization."
Any innovation or technology, no matter how ground-breaking, must still function in a connected, integrated, and flexible environment.
Let's look at different expressions of operational silos
Process silos arise when communication and information barriers arise across departmental processes, leading to slow turnaround times, resulting in rework, and creating animosity among employees.
As more processes go digital, the complete process value chain is disconnected, allowing different processes and sub-processes to become isolated and misaligned.
A good example of process silos can be seen in the finance departments of many organizations. While employees know this department exists, they usually do not know exactly what goes on in there or the KPIs this department measures to boost company productivity.
It is often in tight schedules or deadlines that employees ask questions about where to submit a particular document, the people to be notified, and the duration of the process. This obviously leads to a slowdown of work that could have been managed much more effectively.
A simple, straightforward process that is regularly communicated and supported by a guided, self-service work system can lessen this confusion. These transparent, automated systems reduce silos by making organizational procedures clearer — Everyone knows what to do whenever they need anything.
People Silos often arise from process silos. Business processes are not designed to operate in a human-system environment. Prior to disruption, processes are designed for people-to-people interaction. When the processes become isolated, so do people. Over time, people become disconnected and lose the agility the business expects in changing times.
A good example of people silos is the "it's not my job" mentality that many employees have, causing them to ignore company goals in pursuit of more department-oriented results.
People silos are typically the result of a myopic leadership team, and providing leaders that carve out unified goals and vision helps to reduce these problems.
Data Silos arise from the constant and automatic build-up of data within an organization, often without being noticed.
Unlike the early days when data was not considered valuable to businesses, the era of digitalization has brought the numerous uses of data in business operations to the fore. Organizations then began to face the challenge that data captured for specific functions wasn’t visible to everyone.
For example, so much data can be gathered for the financial department of an organization, with so much of the data being irrelevant. Where is this data stored, and what are the requirements for sifting through it? No one seems to know.
Soon, this data stacks up somewhere to the point where it becomes difficult to glean the necessary information for the organization. At this point, it becomes a problem.
Data silos often arise quickly and unintentionally. Every stakeholder must be on deck to prevent data accumulation and ensure information clarity.