Are we challenging the right silos ?

Summary : silos are a well known harm enterprises are trying to get rid of. But, in organizations that need to be deeply connected to markets and customers, where problem solving and exception handling are becoming employee’s day to day work, what is the level of collaboration between IT, HR and marketing ? If, at the highest level, these three departments work isolated the one from the others, overlooking the fact they jointly contribute to the same mechanism, there are few chances to see things change in the other levels.

The top of any business knows well that a large part of the organizational silos is a real harm for organizations that need to become more agile, responsive, reconfigurable and transverse. They thry to challenge those silos with collaboration projects and get mixed results. But could they really think they can get rid of silos if they don’t challenge those they built at their very top ?

Let’s start from the beginning. Organizations want to become more agile and responsive, more connected to the market and listening to customers, empowering employees to react effectively, the whole in a service driven approach. To make it possible, they know the importance of organizational and technologic approaches needed to exploit this new field of value.

So we get this triptych : empowered employee, customer (at the center of the system) and information/tools allowing the first to manage the relation with the second, either directly with him or while collaborating internally.

Now, have a look at “who owns whom” in the organization.

Employees belong to HR, customers to marketing and tools to IT. And, in most cases, all these departments work isolated, overlooking they all jointly contribute to the same mechanism.

Do HR do their best to make participation to the mechanism possible ? In terms of appraisals, job description, training ?

Does marketing provide employees with the right practices and processes to deliver an advanced customer relationship ?

Does IT provides the right tools to both employees and customers to make it possible ?

The list of questions could be much longer but, globally speaking, the question is “do these three departments sit around a table to discuss their respective, complementary, coordinated participation to a system that’s central in the value chain ?”

In most cases the answer is no, to such an extent than we got to a paradoxical point where :

– employees think that that HR are on the organization’s side, not on theirs.

– marketing sees HR as a barrier, an improvement breaker.

– Rh think they have nothing to do with marketing because customers and products are not their call.

– everyone tries to avoid IT and even when IT wants to become an actual service provider they find no one to talk with.

Could you imagine a basketball team where guards, forwards, centers have their own coach, their own ball and play alone on the field, not trying to do anything with the others while the goal  is to bring the ball together close to the opponent’s basket and score ? It happens every day in today’s organizations.

Talking about silos, the top management should first try to get rid of its own ones before expecting employees to break theirs.


Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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