An article by Graham Winter, an Australian organisational psychologist, with some nicely expressed ideas about minimising organisational silos.

When initiatives failed
Our studies showed that when business initiatives failed, the ‘players’ were likely to be:

  1. pursuing their own agenda: there was no shared bigger picture between units and little understanding or empathy for others, and leaders allowed conflicting agendas to prevail
  2. avoiding and denying: employees avoided reality checks, there was a limited use of data in feedback and decision-making and the company had poor problem-solving practices
  3. stifling communication: there was an absence of listening, e-mail was used as the main means of communication, there was a prevalence of hoarded information and alternative views were often dismissed
  4. protecting their own turf: employees prioritised and planned in isolation, used their status to influence decisions and fostered inconsistency in processes and systems
  5. playing ‘I win, you lose’: employees were blamed as soon as things went wrong, and success was rewarded inside the silos rather than across the company.

When initiatives succeeded
When business initiatives succeeded, the ‘players’ were likely to be:

  1. sharing the big picture: companies created and shared one big picture, found common goals and synergies and focused on what was best for the organisation
  2. sharing the reality: employees were focused on real performance, made fact-based decisions and had the tough conversation rather than avoiding reality
  3. sharing the air: companies invited ideas from employees in every area of the business, and employees expressed opinions clearly and succinctly and listened to others
  4. sharing the load: employees prioritised and planned together, were clear about roles and expectations and looked for common ground
  5. sharing the wins and losses: companies paid close attention to joint results, learned and adapted together and rewarded true performance.