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Chris Collison “In Defence of Silos”

Are there areas in your organization where you need to collect, protect, store, securely develop, and preserve things of value for future use by others?

Chris Collison is an expert on knowledge management and organizational effectiveness, operating an independent management consultancy in the UK. He is also the author of "No More Consultants" and "Learning to Fly". Here is an extract from Chris' recent blog "In Defence of Silos"...
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So is the presence of silos always a bad thing? They seem to work well for managing grain!

Are there areas in your organisation where you need to collect, protect, store, securely develop, and preserve things of value for future use by others?

Perhaps it’s not the presence of silos which is the real issue, it’s their invisibility, anonymity and unnecessary impenetrability!

The problems arise when people don’t know where the silos are, whether they are empty or full, how to access the content and who is working on them. In which case, there will be times when smashing them down isn’t the solution. It will be more appropriate to discover and recognise them, map their existence, understand their contribution, check that there’s no duplication, open them up for access and/or contribution by others (inside and outside?) and finally to communicate how others can get the benefits.

Here’s a quote from the Organizational Learning Strategy at TEAR Fund, who I had the pleasure of working with earlier this year.

"We have a great deal to learn from each other across teams and groups, and so we need to reframe the idea of breaking down our silos, to one of opening them up. We should be continually finding ways to build bridges between and within our teams and groups. Silos are used to store grain, and our groups and teams need to nurture their learning, and then communicate it with others."

I think there’s much more than a grain of truth in that.

Chris Collison

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