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Killing The Silo System

by | Nov 13, 2012 | Industry News & Trends

Silos (in organizations, not on farms) allow for departmental knowledge and expertise. They create a go-to mentality within organizations; if you need X — you know where to go. There is a certain sense of pride that emanates from creating a knowledge silo and if you believe knowledge is power, your department gains a strangle hold on it.

But silos kill innovation. Not only do they hold information hostage, they create tunnel vision. As a staffer in charge of X, I never think about Y and Z. I do what’s asked, produce my part and go home. Is that your ideal employee? Silos create and foster that mentality. What I do is important but it stands alone from all else. Does that fit your mission and the people you serve?

Silos are stalwart warriors. They are difficult to defeat and they replicate quickly. Even silo opponents give them power (accidentally) when they discount something another department/area says because they are not the experts. Could you be open to the fact that a volunteer might have a great membership drive idea even though he or she has never studied marketing or lead a membership campaign?  Probably, yes, right? What if what he or she was suggesting was the complete opposite of how you’ve been doing it? Now how open to the idea are you? Did you just crawl back into your silo?

Yes, we need experts. Yes, we need go-to people but these roles should be claimed by action and innovation not title.

As organizations, can we start by being a little more open; by placing trust in those who are interested in offering of themselves and their knowledge? What will this mean for us?


Our recent webinar with Jamie Notter addresses the silo issue.  You can listen to it here.


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