‘Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.’
Lou Gerstner (Former CEO of IBM)
In this blog, and a few that follow, we're focused on analyzing organizational culture as "the way we get things done around here."
Travel through any of a thousand farming towns and you will see a landscape filled with silos. Silos are helpful, meaningful and valuable tools for farming. They retain a supply of food for livestock throughout harsh winters. Without a doubt, they serve a crucial purpose in agriculture.
Silos also exist metaphorically in business. Teams or departments or groups retain precious data, process, even historical knowledge that can benefit others. But like the farming silo, contents are distributed by someone willing to share and provide.
When we analyze culture using this metaphor, we ask some very direct questions:
- How do teams share information?
- How are teams and key individuals included in critical decisions?
- How do managers and leaders demonstrate collaboration?
- Those who have information may believe the old saw: 'possession is nine tenths of the law'.
- Some may wish to retain information with the false belief that special knowledge will help them stay employed during tough times.
- Sometimes people simply don't know why they need to collaborate.
- Reward systems may actually perpetuate silos.
- Speed of decision making is slowed, sometimes halted.
- Solutions to problems may be incomplete, causing rework in the months and years ahead.
- There remains a sense of Organizational Uncertainty which leads to lower productivity.
- Decreased productivity and ineffective decision making ultimately lead to decreased financial performance.