Diminishing the Silo Effect


The following is an example of how TMC helped a company with cross-functional collaboration, allowing it to reach its goals of shortening development cycles so it could develop better products and get them to market quicker. The root of the problem was that this organization had highly functionalized its operations and was suffering from a fairly typical silo effect, in which lack of communication and support between departments meant that teams ended up only working toward their own goals, not those of the company. Information was getting lost, time was being wasted, and the company’s strategy was falling by the wayside.

The leaders of the company called in TMC for help. We were able to come up with a plan based on the Cultural Orientations Approach and implemented it in three phases. First, we gathered the company’s functional leaders and presented them with a cultural perspective of their functional silos. This was surprising to the leaders, because conventionally silos have not been framed as a cultural challenge. We worked with them to figure out how gaining a cultural perspective on their operations could open up new opportunities for achieving breakthroughs. Once there was an understanding of what was being sub-optimized in the organization because of the silos, we dug deeper and used the three dimensions of the Cultural Orientations Model to map out the gaps between the business functions. We did this in a number of sessions and were able to get a clear idea of how the various functions in the organization could be described differently from a cultural perspective. Finally, we were able to implement what we called cross-functional workouts based on the principles of cultural dialogue to define new, shared norms and commitments to break through those silos.

It was a big challenge for the organization, but the impact of creating cross-functional collaboration was extremely high, and TMC’s intervention was very successful in getting the company to its goal of shorter development cycles. 

Lynne Tarter