Root patterns of organisational silos

The single most influential factor that dedicates if organisations succeed at their goals, is the ability of their business units/Teams to work together in alignment towards those goals

I have learnt that behaviours that bring misalignment, e.g siloed behaviours (defensiveness, back stabbing, closed attitudes towards new ideas ,ambiguity on accountability) are symptoms of something systemic occurring in the Teams, Business Unit and/or the firm that has allowed that silo to take root, establish and sustain.

As an independent consultant , I am often put in assignments to affect cultural change ( advocating shared ownership of Quality, new Testing approaches or tools , performing a Test practice assessment) where in I often encounter the above mentioned siloed behaviours.

My approach towards chipping away at these siloes is to observe patterns of systemic issues and frame them as themes of root causes that need to be addressed to initiate that cultural change

Here are some of the themes that I have encountered so far that have helped me understand root causes of siloed behaviours in organisations

1. Siloes due to lack of psychological safety

Manifest as…

My resources will be poached if anyone outside our unit get a whiff of the initiative

I invariably get attacked if I approach them with new ideas on how they could improve their Team processes ?

What will it mean for my job’s prominence if we collaborate with that Team?

Will be I punished if I move out of my lane ?

2. Siloes due to following path of least resistance

Manifest as…

This is the only way we can get anything done in this company

My last boss said this is OK, she will handle the consequences !

We are only responsible for these areas of the stack, unhappy customers not my problem

3. Siloes due to lack of coaching

Manifest as…

This is the way we have always run this Team !

I do not know of another way to do it

We are always busy and there is no time to reflect and improve

Categorising siloed behaviours into these themes helps me contextualise and train my mind to view silos through the lens of the systemic issues and helps frame solutions as,

What steps do I need to advocate to increase physiological safety of these Team members ?

Do I need to agree & document acceptable ways of working first before moving ahead with the project ?

Is there a people coaching need here rather than a project resourcing need, who needs coaching on which aspects ?

,rather than viewing siloed behaviours as lazy choices that Teams or individuals have make naturally to avoid accountability.

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