The Latest Digital Transformation Trends, part 1: Silo Breakdown

In the learning and development world, you’ll be familiar with the idea of silo breakdown and how it can contribute to a much more effective digital transformation programme.

Traditionally, organisations structure themselves so that different departments are compartmentalised and focus primarily on their own objectives and KPIs.

So, what’s the problem with this? This traditional structure means that different units often ignore each other, whereas digital transformation efforts need a healthy line of communication between departments.

Digital transformation can’t wait; it needs to happen now, and it cannot just be confined to one department. By breaking down silos, digital innovation will be given more room to flourish and develop. But how can these silos break down?

  • Communication channels should be opened between various departments. All business relevant information should be passed around the entire company.
  • Various goals and KPIs should be aligned across the whole business.
  • Create a new liaison team to remove friction and to consult to every department.
  • Chief Development Officers are often seen as the ‘enablers’ of silo breakdown. With cross functional roles and their focus on customer centricity, this relatively new role has been tipped to be a game-changer. However, only 19% of companies have one. Check out this Forbes article to find out more.

Here’s an example of silo breakdown…

Last year, for one 24 hour period, Cisco broke down silos and routines to bring predominantly HR-based employees together across 16 time zones, in 116 cities and 39 countries. They wanted to focus on and break down the things that prevent HR from performing at its best.

This ‘breakathon’ involved more than 800 employees, and participants worked in cross-functional teams of up to 8 people. They didn’t receive any ‘problems to solve’, but they instead identified, on their own, an issue they saw needing attention. When it was over, participants had come up with 105 ideas, each accompanied by a video.

It led to an overall revamping of the onboarding process, with a new app for new employees and their managers called YouBelong@Cisco. You can read more about Cisco’s experiment here.

Silo breakdown has a real potential to disrupt your organisation in a positive way.

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Posted December 19, 2017