Friday, May 29, 2009

Break Down Internal Barriers

One of the most insidious barriers to growth is the silo mentality prevalent in companies of all sizes but particularly large ones. The barriers range from being a mere nuisance to out and out stagnation where the internal silos almost consider their counterparts more of an “enemy” than the competition. Furthermore, companies are never organized to meet specific customer challenges; they almost can’t be. There must be efficiencies in organizing around functions, manufacturing process; technologies; brand; actual customers; etc. So, to gain the full benefit of the company’s capabilities in attacking a customer challenge, leveraging across the silos is critical. The following are some interesting approaches to enhance communication across these barriers:

•Publish everyone’s objectives and activities on the intranet so that people
know what other people are working on.
• Organise cross-functional teams for all sorts of projects. Make them as loose or as formal as you see fit but be sure that there is good mixing and that all the departments involved contribute.
• Arrange plenty of social and extra-curricular activities e.g. sports, quizzes, book clubs, hobby clubs, special interest groups etc.
• Have innovation contests where cross-functional teams compete.
• Have frequent secondments between departments.
• Deliberately rearrange the office layout from time to time so that people move desks and sit with new groups (or adopt a hot desk approach).
• Organise a cross-functional innovation incubator.
• Encourage department managers to look for ideas, input and solutions from
outside their departments. Publicly praise managers who do this.

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