Kickstarter Project: Overcoming Organizational Myopia

Overcoming Organizational Myopia, stovepipes, sandboxes, short sightedness

At 2:30 pm, Central Time, on June 27, 2015, KS Project, Overcoming Organizational Myopia lifted off.  Overcoming Organizational Myopia will be a new nonfiction book about successfully breaking through stovepiped organizations to obtain organizational effectiveness.

The Short Story: I discovered that it really does not matter what company or organization I work with, they all have stovepipes.  What I learned is that they are a product of human nature.  The problem is that everyone wants to “break down the silos” as the typical management response. Unfortunately, this NEVER works! All you do is cause confusion and drive unproductivity as the people in your business seek to rebuild the stovepipes that make them feel secure.  This book is about breaking through the stovepipes to become an effective and efficient organization.  It respects the stovepipes and teaches you how to navigate through them using a consistent and systematic application of full-spectrum strategic and organizational methods.  The book is designed to provide you with situational examples so you can self-diagnose your organization.  Across nine areas, the book helps you identify problem areas and, like a business doctor, treat the root causes with solid business solutions.

How do you break down silos?

Saturday I came across this question on LinkedIn…how do you break down silos?

Breaking Down SilosSilos exist in nearly every organization.  Organizations’ that suffer from silos are affected by what I refer to as Organizational Myopia.  My book on this is due out in a couple months that addresses this topic.

Silos are created by human nature.  Entrepreneurs start their small business with a great idea.  They are really good at delivering a service or building a product.  If the customers like the product or service, business tends to grow fast.  Specialty departments form because the founder’s skill is in developing the product.  Needs like HR, Finance, and IT crop up and specific people are hired to do this.  They often need to stand up a team or department.  Then the delivery side of the house gets too busy for everything to happen with one person and it fractures into things like Operations, Sales, Marketing, and Logistics.  These departments tend to start to segment around customer bases and then fracture further into teams.  These teams promote competition across the product for sales and delivery.

When the company started, it was small and manageable.  Everyone was focused on the same things.  The company grows and it starts to form these “groups of humans” in what we call “silos.”  So, the silos ALWAYS exist in successful companies.  The bigger the company is, the more prevalent the silos.  Mergers and acquisitions tend to create more silos then remove them.

Then here comes human nature.  Everyone wants to “belong.”  It’s a Maslow basic need.  They identify with their group at work as part of that effort; belonging means that you are part of one team and not part of others.  Thus, you get a strong feeling of team affinity.  This builds walls and starts to create an “us and them” mentality.  People start to think “we’re better than they are,” “they get better stuff,” “we have more work,” and “we need more money or people than they do.”  The walls solidify with brick and mortar and now your silos are firm and resolute.

Problems with this are a lack of communication across silos, people tend to throw “stuff” over the wall to the next step in processes without regard, constant empire building and resource wars, and everyone develops their own view of what customer is important.  This is Organizational Myopia.

The thing is, just disrupting the silos (breaking them down) WILL NOT solve your problem.  Tear them down with leadership and personnel changes, mergers, and acquisitions–the normal management response to the problem–doesn’t work.  You spend months, if not years, dealing with the change management issues associated, or worse, the ramifications because you didn’t deal with the change management in the first place.  Needless, employees flail around being unproductive for a while and then guess what?  Human nature takes hold again and they form right back into their belonging groups and they rebuild their silo walls and make them even more solid to prevent the same breakdown again.

The trick is to learn to work in a silo environment, not break down the silos.  Knowing how to Overcome Organizational Myopia is the purpose of my book.  It’s about breakthrough, not break down.

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