A silo mindset is so 20th Century! Then why is it prevalent in today’s organizations? Some of it is paranoia, or maybe a need to climb the corporate ladder and a lot of it is just plain old-fashioned learned behavior. I have often heard people say, “X department/function doesn’t collaborate.” You know it's not the department it is the members of the team, or department. The people in it either collaborate or don’t and if they don’t then they’re building a silo without realizing it and it’s all in the mindset. So how do you know if you have an accidental silo mindset?
Here are some indicators:
- You work with the same people all the time.
Maybe you do this because it is expedient. Maybe the expediency is that you know how each other tick.
It can help to minimize conflict (most of us prefer that) and that makes it easier to get the job done. Taking this approach means you can get the job done in the short term, however in the longer term it stultifies creativity and innovation - never a good idea in these ever changing times.
- When decision making you choose the same people as your sounding board
In my experience people do this for a number of reasons; to confirm they are right, minimize conflict and because they are not sure whom they can trust. We all know it is good to have diversity but it feels like it takes more time - time we don’t have. However taking the time to find the one person you know always disagrees with you before you make the decision can save you time and more importantly help you understand other points of view - be open to ideas directly in conflict with yours.
- You only focus and work towards your goals
Most people do this because that is how they are rewarded. Focusing only on your goals means that you may not be ready to collaborate with others whether it is in your own team or outside of your department. The bigger picture is why you are employed and it should be inspiring. And actually you are paid not to just achieve your personal goals but ultimately those of your organization. If your goals and the organizations are not aligned you may want to check why that is with your leader.
- You only network with people you know can help you
Networking is often seen as valuable only when networking with people you know can help you. We are sort of back to expediency here but how do you know who else can help you or indeed whom you can help without constantly broadening your network. The key is to build a network, which includes light and deep connections. What do I mean by light? Light connections are people you maybe see occasionally or perhaps only via an electronic interface such as Linked-In or the company collaboration software. It’s not enough by the way to connect the relationship needs to be reciprocal.
If while you were reading this you recognized some of these behaviors either in yourself or someone else then it is probably time to stop being an Accidental Siloist and time to purposefully build a 21st Century collaborative mindset.