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Silo-Busting, We Have To Look Outside Our Own Functions/Silos!

by David Brock on May 21st, 2018

The poet, John Donne, wrote,  “No (wo)man is an island, entire of itself; every (wo)man is a piece of the continent.”

Donne’s point is that none of us and what we do exists in isolation, we are part of a bigger thing–a family, a community, a nation.  Alternatively a department/function, an organization, a company, a market ecosystem…..

“Well dughhhh Dave, what’s your point?”

The problem is, too many functions within our companies tend to act as “islands.”  I suppose it’s human nature, we all tend to focus on our jobs, our goals, what we do.  Over time, we lose focus on why we are doing these things or who we are doing these for.  What we do becomes ends in themselves.

Perhaps we are in marketing.  We focus on the things marketers do, achieving our goals and objectives.  It may be new marketing programs, in may be lead gen programs, it may be something else.  But ask sales what they think, “The leads are crap, marketing materials aren’t what I need….”  (I’ll get to the sales side of this, so if you are a marketer, don’t despair).  Or we paper customers with endless emails, offers, or other spam–always ratcheting up the volumes because they aren’t responding.

Perhaps we are in sales enablement.  We focus on training, tools, programs to help, “enable sales people.”  But too often, we find the sales people aren’t using them, or they have taken the training, but it doesn’t have an impact.

Perhaps we are in sales, we’re goal focused, our managers push us to make quota, so we push our products, focusing on transactions, trying to close deals.  Yet our customers don’t want to see us, they are concerned with what they are concerned with.

And our customers are focused on their own worlds, doing what they do, often just trying to survive.

We all tend to focus on ourselves, what we do becomes the center of our universe/focus.  Doing our jobs, achieving our goals is the center of what we do and how we behave.  Buy in doing this, we lose why our jobs and roles were created, in the first place.

The reality is this isn’t working, this “closed” view of the world keeps us from achieving our goals and objectives, it prevents us from growing as individuals, organizations, and communities.

It’s amazing how things change, how the results we produce change, how our views of the “world” change, when we change our perspective.

When we start looking beyond ourselves, beyond our jobs, beyond our functions, we suddenly connect and start to become more effective and impactful.

At the most root level, none of our jobs/roles exist in isolation.  They exist in the context of something else, a customer, other functions in the organization, other people.

Go back to the roots of “efficient manufacturing.”  Each step in the manufacturing process exists to serve that “downstream” step or customer.  The way we build effective manufacturing processes is by starting at the end of the process, working our way backwards, defining what we need to serve/support those downstream customers.  The moment that focus is lost, the process starts to fail.

We need to continue to focus on those people who are our customers, they are the why for the existence of our roles.  If what we do isn’t helpful or impactful to what they are trying to achieve, then what we are doing has not value.

We know silos don’t work, we know we have to look outside ourselves, our jobs, our functions if we are going to be impactful and achieve our own goals.

But why is is so difficult to do this?  Why do we forget?



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