Lots of people talk about organisational silos being bad – but have you given thought about why they are bad? What if they’re actually a good thing? In this podcast episode, join Oliver Banks and see what life would be like if no silos existed. From there, learn the steps that will make your company more effective!

Listen to this episode to discover:

  • Why organisational silos are bad.
  • Why silos are good on farms and if this translates to organisations.
  • What you can do to make your organisation more effective.

What if organisational silos are a good thing

Lots of people talk about organisational silos being bad – but have you given thought about why they are bad? And more importantly, have you challenged yourself?

What if silos are a good thing?

What if we’re aiming a silo-less world which is actually a dysfunctional future or a dystopia?

In this podcast episode, let’s explore this in more detail.

Silos aren’t new news

Organisational or corporate silos aren’t a new phenomenon. They’ve been around for a while. McKinsey wrote about collaboration and reported;

“Nearly 80 percent of the senior executives surveyed in a 2005 study said that effective coordination across product, functional, and geographic lines was crucial for growth. Yet only 25 percent of the respondents described their organizations as “effective” at sharing knowledge across boundaries.”

That McKinsey study is hinting that there are silos. Leaders recognise a need to work cross-functionally. But at the very same time, they recognise that they’re not very good at it.

Then, 10 years later but still back in 2015, Steve Dennis wrote that “silos belong on farms” and made reference in his book, Remarkable Retail.

By the way, if you want to listen to Steve Dennis’s appearance on the Retail Transformation Show podcast, then check out episode 83: Being Remarkable In Adversity (part 1) and episode 84: (part 2).

Why are silos used on farms?

Farm silos Farms use silos for storing grain and other bulk materials.

They keep the grain separated and contained. Silos add structure and order. Using them helps to protect the grain from the external environment, animals and pests.

They help the farmer to manage their land and harvest at the optimum time for the crop but then hold onto the grain until it’s needed. Silos help farmers to plan and manage capacity. But they also allow for more specialisation and process efficiency with less downtime.

Equally, if storing supplies such as animal feed, they allow the farmer to buy in bulk and avoid excessive costs from reordering too frequently.

So, silos are effective for use on farms.

Why are missile silos useful?

Another type of intentional silo is a missile silo. These are used to house and protect missiles for offensive or defensive purposes. They help keep secrecy and protect the network.

They can act independently and mean it’s harder for the enemy to really understand the scale, scope or strategy.

So, silos are still used and still relevant as part of military networks of assets.

So, why are organisational silos bad?

The stereotypical silo conjurers up many different thoughts. I’m sure you can think of the challenges of organisational silos. Imagine what that looks like for a moment.


You’ll probably imagine strong, invisible walls between departments or teams. There is a resistance to working effectively across the organisation. Perhaps you’re imagining insular employees that don’t trust other people in the organisation. Furthermore, there is probably a communication breakdown. Important information isn’t shared. People aren’t engaged in key decisions.

Maybe you’re imagining different teams with tunnel vision to their own goals. Not fully considering the impact of their actions. But, equally willing to march into conflict with other teams in the company.

What’s essentially going on here is that individuals feel a stronger loyalty, affiliation and love towards a particular person, team or department when compared to the overall company.

To overcome a silo, you must ask yourself why that is. That’s the starting point.

4 actions to make your organisation tick

Towards the end of the podcast, you hear 4 actions to embark on.

  1. Defining the company’s purpose clearly.
  2. Building the operating model that delivers that purpose.
  3. Measuring success effectively
  4. Fostering better collaboration

Be sure to listen in to discover more.

Encouraging heated debate

As you’ll hear in the episode, I reference an article from Jeff Erwin with a viewpoint on encouraging a heated and emotional debate to encourage better collaboration.

Angry man pointingIt asks how to get a group of highly opinionated and passionate executives to buy into a decision that they might not agree with. It suggests that there must be a passionate debate around the issue or challenge. Everyone must participate.

“If this is done right, feelings may get hurt, people will argue and pound the table, and even the quieter members of the team will engage in arm-waving and debating – because it just isn’t possible to not participate.”

It’s the leader’s role to allow this passionate debate. Not to close it down. Erwin continues:

“So many times, I have seen the leader of a team shut down a debate because of the feeling it has getting too heated, personal or uncomfortable. This is actually destructive to achieving a high-functioning executive team. You have to let them fight it out.”

Read the full article on LighterCapital.com: Silos and Turf Wars: How to Break Down Silos in the Workplace

What do you think of this idea? Would it work for you and your team? How about with your peers – would you want to go head to head?

Listen to the full episode

Listen now to the full episode to discover what a silo-less world would be like and more specifically what you can do about it.



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