Silo’s – decimate efficienycy

I was at a family function over the weekend and chatting to my cousin who is a free-lance writer and editor. She was recently asked to do a job for a large government department that was in her words, an extraordinary experience.

The job was essentially a consulting role on how to write a workbook linked to a theoretical text to enable self-learning. The department (within the larger department) was one of more than 20 departments all doing the same thing within their ‘subject matter expertise’. Upon being briefed about the job and establishing time lines and agreeing costs, she went away and began to research the task. When she realised that most of the other ‘departments’ had already written many ‘workbooks’ and that collectively there was an abundance of expertise in the organisation, she called her sponsor and asked why they were not seeking to save time and money by utilising existing people and expertise?

The response from her sponsor was “haven’t you heard of silo’s? thats how things work around here”,

This is not an isolated case and unfortunately ‘silo’s, disparate groups and lack of cohesion are on the increase within organisations – even small organisations. Why?

Busyness or more aptly overwhelm and overload which leads to avoidance behaviours, are on the rise both within organisations and more generally. People have become adept at rationalising and justifying why they avoid things, and why so often they fail to take the most efficient pathway with performing tasks. This is primarily because the more efficient pathway will more often than not involve collaborating with other people, as was the case with my cousins experience. So why is this so challenging?

Sadly it is because a further fallout of busyness and overload is decision paralysis. This leads people to think ‘if I involve ‘x’ from another department that means the time frame to get this thing done will blow out because they will prioritise all of ‘their demanding tasks first’. And so it goes around. Silo’s have not become pandemic due to intentions of people to isolate themselves into their ‘own manageable department’ – far from it. Ask anyone and they will lament the existence of silo’s, yet at the same time uphold them.

What is the solution? A radical overhaul of internal communications within businesses with a return of power to team leaders. Additionally, visibility of what is transpiring within teams with operational managers who are responsible for efficiency of the collective teams output in meeting business objectives. Such a system means information is collected by teams from the customer interface, fed upstream by team leaders and then directions for responses fed back down from operational leaders who have visibility across all teams thereby creating a feedback loop.Such a system by default removes silo’s and moreover removes the reason they exist.

Moreover such communications systems also exist yet ironically silo’s are stalling their widespread use.

7 things that blah blah…………

The art of the head-line, the grab words: New; Now you can; How to get; The secret to; You can be like… and then there are the numbers.  7 is the magic number allegedly – why? Anybody’s guess. One absolutely indisputable fact in a word awash with sages, advisers and experts who espouse removing your ‘pain’, is that those who have at least a basic understanding of how to ‘grab’ attention are much more likely to be seen as the ‘experts’.

There are two problems with this, firstly, ‘credibility’ in the virtual world is measured by ‘hits’, ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘shares’ and pretty much in that order – albeit there is a push for ‘likes’ being more important than ‘hits or views’. So how do you get ‘hits’ with your ‘post’ regardless of how banal is it or how much is regurgitated content (plagiarism was seen as bad form – now is seems to be encouraged)? With human attention shrinking seemingly by the hour these days – literally no-one reads things through anymore, if they do they ‘speed read’. That means skimming through the content which from a ‘brain processing’ perspective has a ZERO chance of being comprehended. The only thing that will ‘stick’ is the headline or bits of the headline which further reinforces the ‘attention’ words as something readers ‘grab’ hold of – oh and the number of hits, likes etc stick, further reinforcing the ‘measures of credibility’. This is how we have become programmed to consume content, lots of hits – then it must be good or important or interesting or maybe even funny – we crave being entertained.

The second thing and one that quite frankly I find simply mind-boggling – is this seemingly insatiable addiction to being ‘seen’ and heard as some sort of expert and usually in something that ‘is popular or a buzz word concept, the latest fad. I think the phenomena of ‘career development’ is driving this, as allegedly numbers on LinkedIn for example, are ‘important’ for career growth. Recommendations, endorsements, posts, likes, followers, the LinkedIn experts tell us are the way to get ahead. The cacophony of noise out there is SO loud that the chances of ‘genuinely’ (a whole other post) being heard are very, very slim.

The real experts who are most credible and dedicate their lives to their craft or area of passion are the ones who are more likely to not be barking about themselves and their ‘expertise’. These experts are also quite satisfied with their lot, they have a job, or  clients, customers who are so ‘delighted’ by their services (this also apply’s to employee’s) that they talk about their experience with friends, family, colleagues in conversation (this includes bosses talking about great employees). Conversations, F2F or phone, brings so many rich elements to light that ‘are absent’ in the social media realm. There is an increasing realization that whilst technology has radically increased ‘connectivity’ were are actually less ‘connected in a real human way that ever before’.

Just think about looking for a service or product and how much more convinced you are ‘hearing F2F or by phone about the experience from someone, as opposed to reading reviews. You can ask questions – get a deeper sense of whether the product, service will meet your needs and also gauge the feedback for ‘fit to you’, because you ‘know’ the person you are speaking with. The real experts I describe above exist in a community of experience, where they ‘get what they want’ – doing satisfying meaningful work that is appreciated by those they do it for. At the end of the day is what we all want, we actually crave being appreciated for what it is that we do in our way – that no one else does because we are all unique. BTW the brain is hard-wired to seek this level of satisfaction – if we are really smart then we will  ‘get with the brain program’.