Your cross-department silos are killing you!

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The biggest momentum killer in growing your technology (or any) business is the silos that you continue to work in. For many organizations, working in a silo or vacuum is “just the way it’s done.” If you can’t seem to put your finger on why your organization is splintered into pockets of work silos where you aren’t completely clear what other departments are doing, this blog is for you.

5 ways your organization creates silos:

  1. “Just build the pipeline damn it!”
    • How many of you in marketing are constantly told “we need leads!”? And how many of you in sales are hounded to turn leads into sales with no questions asked: “Just build the damn pipeline!”? This is one of the biggest culprits for the sales and marketing silos running rampant in our organizations. When senior management pounds you guys for the almighty lead and opportunity, many times the end result is an over-inflated pipeline; some leads just aren’t leads (see “I’m not a lead” blog) and a lot of opportunities are actually leads. Naturally, a sales rep creating “soft opportunities” is not going to want to give the rest of the organization a whole lot of visibility and a silo is created.
  2. “I got no corporate power but by God, I can at least control my department.”
    • This one could actually be the result of a silo or could be causing the silo. With the downturn in the economy, and greater scrutiny of corporate leadership, many organizations have turned to micromanaging their managers. Let’s face it, there is a lot of “I’m the department head and if it’s going to succeed, it’s because of me” going around. But what this has created is a middle tier of managers desperately holding on to the few things they can control and they don’t want your group telling them – er, making suggestions about – how to do things. They have control of it just fine.
  3. “I don’t have time to communicate with your department.”
    • Clearly this is the era of doing more with less. In troubling-revenue times, the easiest way to even a balance sheet is to cut labor cost. And the biggest target without executive “protection” is sales and marketing. Marketing is generally considered – and very wrongly so – an expense where line-item budget expenses can reach six or even seven figures. Cut the people and the programs, save the six figures, and senior management looks like heroes. And all business leaders know that sales reps are easily replaced (yes, my tongue is deep in my cheek!) and “we can operate in the field at 75% until we get P&L back in line.” The sad fact here is that sales and marketing spends are investments, exponentially so in technology where customer acquisition cycles are sometimes 12 months or greater. “So, stop bothering us for a status on what we are doing. Five of us are doing ten jobs, and I don’t have time to discuss it with you!”
  4. “My boss says I don’t have to communicate with you!”
    • This one is actually a culmination of 1 through 3 above. Add some hard-boiled EGO on top of 1 through 3 and you are left with the most solid silo in organizations today. Senior management rivalry is sometimes intense and some senior managers’ managers think that exacerbating the rivalry will keep them on their toes better, eventually leading to greater performance for the business. In this scenario, what comes to mind is Vito Corleone’s line in the Godfather to his bratty son Sonny in the big bosses’ meeting: “Never let other people know what you are thinking.” Yes, there is power in hoarding information and some senior managers do this well. So well, in fact, that they tell their subordinates not to communicate: “Just work on what I tell you, I know what you need to be doing. You don’t have to talk to those marketing nitwits.”
  5. “My department doesn’t have anything to do with our customers.”
    • In a large enterprise, it is easy to get lost in your own department and the most important asset – your customer – is forgotten. If you want to succeed in technology today, you can’t forget the customer and his/her experience with your product or service. From your dev team to product management to marketing to sales so implementation and support, every department has some bearing on the end-user experience. The bank teller using your software has very little decision-making authority at their company but he/she has a lot of influence when they constantly go to their manager and say things like “this software is always locking up on me,” or “this software just stinks, I hate using it!”

If your organization is meeting all expectations, bravo. However…

How goes it in your organization? If your organization is meeting all expectations and you don’t need to improve your bottom line, pat yourself on the back and carry on. Few organizations however, tell their employees “stop working so hard, everything is running fine.” The reality of it is that you need to work smarter, not harder because you are a marketer in the days of “do more with less resource.” You need to collaborate across departments because you never know where the next great idea will come from; the more brains you have thinking about the problem at hand, the better the chance you have at a solution.

But most importantly, don’t forget the end-user customer. The end-user is why you are in business and the more you communicate (collaborate!) with the other groups in your organization, the more discoveries you will have that will either 1) help you do things better (saving $), or 2) help you do things faster (saving $). In the end, there is better value for your customer without compromising product functionality. Have you bought a loaf of bread lately? The price keeps going up for the same thing! Don’t make this the case with your product/service. Communicate. Collaborate. Get better at what you do.

More info on our process management improvement approach.

Excellent reads on this topic:

“Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable” –Seth Godin
Buy on amazon.com

“The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential” –John C. Maxwell
Buy on amazon.com

“The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” –Malcolm Gladwell
Buy on amazon.com

Leave a Reply