You make a phone call to your credit card company and you get caught in the virtual whirlpool as the VM system takes you through all the options. One of the continuing recordings says “in order to serve you better please give us the reason for your call today.” You are in the office and a client calls and one of your colleagues answers the phone. After listening to the problem your colleague responds that she will have to transfer you to someone else because that is not her job. Even worse you need assistance with a project and you turn to one of your co-workers whose response is that is not my job.
These are all examples of silos. They are the bane of organizational existence. Patrick Lencioni in his book Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars explains how silos cause internal organizational problems. He insisted that silos turn your friends and co-workers into competitors. When we look at the continuous process improvement efforts within your organization it becomes even more apparent. Silos provide a hiding ground for those who oppose the efforts to change the organization. Silos provide false protection from the turmoil within the organization. Silos cause animosity among the rest of the organization because nothing gets done.
The TLS Continuum relies on a corporate culture of cooperation and engagement throughout the organization. Objections occur when one facet of the organization tries to protect its domain. Allowing turf wars to replace rapid improvement in processes that respond to customer needs and wants means that the organization suffers in the long run.
If your organization is serious about improving your response to client needs then here are some steps that you need to follow:
Step 1: Get management behind the effort to rid the organization of silos – Management through their walk and talk and deeds must make it clear to the organization that while in the past silos may have worked for the organization they no longer serve a purpose in the “new” organization. Silo mentality is purely designed to hold the corporation back from moving forward.
Step 2: Encourage the existence and operation of cross-functional teams – You have an organizational problem? Then every single function within your organization needs to be involved in its solutions. We do not need to be operating in a vacuum. We need pride of ownership in the work of the organization and that does not happen when someone claims to own the process unique to their little piece of earth within the company.
Step 3: It needs to become part of the corporate culture that there is no such thing as it is not my job – Management needs to stress to the organization that as stated above cross-functional teams is the philosophy of this organization and that someone abdicating from that role by saying it is not my job will not be tolerated.
Step 4: Discourage turf wars in your organization – You are involved in a new normal and management must not allow the process to come to a halt because one facet of the organization tries to block the progress. Whether it is done from a concern on how it would affect ones position or from the perspective that the facet does not like change the turf wars need to be gone.
Step 5: Encourage human capital asset ownership of the processes – As an organization your greatest asset is the human capital assets within your organization. Allow them to be a vibrant part of the organizational processes. Let them have a say in what works and what does not.
Step 6: Open your office doors to suggestions and complaints sincerely – Management needs to keep an open channel of communication between the ivory tower if you will and the human capital assets that run your organization. Demonstrate that their suggestions and complaints have meaning to the organization. Be sincere in how you respond to the communications to the organization from your rank and file.
Take a moment and contemplate about your organization. Are you operating based on turf wars and silos or are you making decisions based on free and open communication from the entire organization? Only you can determine whether the TLS Continuum efforts work within your organization effectively.