Business silos occurs when people, departments or systems within one organization do not share the same priorities and goals.
In my opinion this challenge should be addressed from two perspectives: information silo and silo mentality, which are connected to each other.
Information silo is a system that is not communicating freely with other information systems. Data silo is when data remain in the system used by one department is isolated from others. I am sure everyone can give example from own experience, but not everyone has thought about the roots of the issue.
Information silo occurs due to technical or cultural habits, when systems and processes within the company are built vertically, and it is impossible for the system to work with unrelated systems. Sometimes it is really challenging to get required information from other departments. Why? Unless the company has security issues, and all the information is classified as confidential, the reasons of not sharing it can be technical or mental.
Technical roots come from technical inability of the systems to complete certain tasks, and extra time required from the personnel to prepare data. With modern technology and new innovative digital tools this problem can be addressed. But what about the other side of the story? Silo mentality.
Why managers and departments do not wish to share information and knowledge? This mindset can be caused by the following reasons. The department leaders have their own agenda, as a result they create frustration among the employees who cannot freely communicate. All communication goes vertically, via heads of departments, who in their turn, disagree with each other.
There can be several reasons why departments leaders disagree, but as a rule, it comes from the inability of the company CEO to assign clear and SMART objectives, empower managers and motivate them towards common goal.
I don’t say that we should “blame” executives. Sometimes it’s simply impossible to change mindset of certain department managers from working in silo. Usually it caused by their own uncertainty or non-confidence in themselves, and they, instead of sharing, work towards keeping knowledge for themselves.
I don’t know the answer. It is a problem, because I cannot call it “challenge” which can be solved more or less easily.
But what I do know is that we can work towards performance excellence by creating digital solutions for departments to share information without extra resources.
As an example, we are working on the benchmarking on-line tool which allows managers to estimate total cost of crew travel for the crew change for various days and ports. Managers will then be able to have crew travel cost information at all times, and as a result can make better decisions on the crew change dates. This significantly improves communication between crewing departments, vessels managers, and finance teams.
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