How to Bust Through Information Silos in the New Hybrid World of Work – Pt 1
Information silos are a threat to your company's success. Learn how to break them down and why now is the perfect time to change corporate culture.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATIONHOLISTICSILOS OF INFORMATIONSILO MENTALITYCOLLEGIAL WORK ENVIRONMENTHYBRID WORKCORPORATE CULTURE
Have you ever struggled to get data from another department in your company? Tried to track down a single piece of info across Slack, email, and OneDrive? Or discovered that both marketing and operations were both pursuing similar, yet completely unconnected projects? If so, you’ve witnessed information silos in action.
At first, silos of information have only minor effects—they’re inconvenient and slow things down. But over time, they can grow into massive (not to mention costly) problems. According to a SnapLogic study, information silos cost UK companies over £16billion due to lost time and productivity. Unfortunately, we see the same sort of waste occurring with many of our consulting clients.
The digital world of work gives us tools to share information with our peers effortlessly and instantly. But using multiple platforms means data easily gets trapped—or siloed—within a single source, or within the department that created it. Thus, leveraging the tools to their full potential requires a culture of transparency and information sharing.
So how do you convince your team to collaborate more effectively?
Qualities of a collaborative and collegial work environment.
In an ideal world, every company would be a collegial environment. People would strive to work closely with peers, share knowledge, and learn from each other. Offices everywhere would embody the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Whether due to competition among coworkers or the simple flaws of human nature, work environments often devolve into tribal divisions.
However, progress is always possible. Most people, given the opportunity, will embrace a more collaborative workplace. Here are four critical qualities to build and sustain a collegial environment.
Whether intentional or not, hiding information in silos leads to distrust, breakdowns in business operations, and causes a vicious cycle of entrenchment behind departmental boundaries.
That’s why the first and most critical step is to openly share information across your organisation. Make data available to members of every department and foster open communication.
Innovations don’t appear out of thin air—they’re borne of creative minds finding novel approaches to old problems. Encouraging curiosity among your employees gives each of them an opportunity to take a fresh look at your operations and ask probing questions.Why do we do this? What if we tried that? At worst, questions help your people learn something new. At best, they shine a light on inefficiencies and help develop a new solution.
Tolerance of mistakes
Mistakes are an inescapable reality, but how you handle them makes all the difference. If you allow employees to wield them like a cudgel and beat their colleagues for errors, it will shatter the desire for transparency.Instead, treating mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow will encourage people to speak up sooner when something goes wrong, minimising the silo effect in your business.
Collaboration across departments
Everyone at your company has a job function, be it IT, finance, or sales. But they’re all working towards a common goal and sharing insight can help advance organisational success.
Your sales reps probably can’t tell your developers how to write better code, but they can give them context for client usage and feedback to help build better software.
Silos existed before COVID-19—hybrid work has only exposed them
In the last two+ years, COVID-19 has confronted us with the upheaval of industries, supply chain disruptions, the Great Resignation, and the rise of hybrid work. As with many of the changes, there are pluses and minuses when it comes to the new normal of hybrid work.
Some of the benefits of hybrid working:
Companies can save millions on the costs of maintaining offices and employee equipment
Organisations can access a larger talent pool
Employees have more flexibility in when and where they work, and save time on commuting
According to a study by Great Place to Work, employee productivity was higher than ever during the height of the pandemic thanks, in large part, to working at home
On the flip side, hybrid working exacerbates many of the circumstances that lead to silos:
Departments and individuals often set up their own solutions in addition to company-wide communication platforms, leading to fractured data sharing
Employees see their immediate peers far less often and adjacent teams hardly, if at all
Managers were largely unprepared for new ways of building teamwork and cohesion in a digital environment
As teams find convenient and pragmatic solutions to day-to-day problems, new silos may crop up undetected
At Prospero Commerce, we encourage a holistic, collaborative approach to discovering and resolving the root cause of problems.
Our diagnostic framework takes feedback from every facet of your company (people, culture, process, revenue and more) into account. Doing so helps you develop a 360-degree view of where you are now, and a roadmap to reach the collegial, prosperous work environment you aim for.
It takes a steady commitment to cultural change to break down silos. Prospero Commerce’s principals have over 60 combined years of experience guiding companies through growth and organisational improvement. Connect with us today to find out how we can help your team reach the next level.
Other Articles in this series:
Man vs. the Machine: The Future of AI in Retail and Digital Commerce
How a Holistic Vision Can Help You Solve More Business Problems, Faster
The Importance of Strong Digital Leadership in 2022 and Beyond
Curiosity Quotient: Why Natural Curiosity is you greatest business asset