Bridging Silos, an Excerpt from Chapter Five: Collaboration, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book

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Dear Linda,
I’m a new product manager for an up an coming start-up with great promise. I like my team, the management, the work . . . it’s all good. But the squabbles between groups, the finger-pointing, the subtle undermining of efforts is starting to get to me. I’ve tried speaking directly to the offending parties and I’ve tried to mediate when I can, but could also use your advice on how to get everyone on the same page. She-who-is-feeling-silo-ed

Dear She, I do feel your pain, and must comment that this is unfortunately very common. It’s a difficult and necessary task you are taking on, but if you are able to resolve the issue, your company will be positioned for success, and your people will be much happier in the process. Below are some ideas which may be helpful to you.

1. Identify all the silos and who is in which silo. It might be obvious that there is a silo between marketing and sales for example, but dig deeper and find out any divisions within each department.
2. Interview all parties and work to understand the motivations and history of the silos. Be a good listener. Don’t judge or fix at this stage.
3. Weave together the stories and motivations to create an understanding and communicate your findings in a documented presentation and report.
4. Work with each group to understand the report and to engage everyone in bridging the silos.
5. Get commitments on action and focus on actions and measurable results.
6. Have the group identify actions which bring up barriers between groups and agree to self-monitor and discourage these actions for yourself and those around you.
7. Reward based on results, on transparent communication and on collaboration across silos.
8. Agree on measurable indicators of progress and publicly chart your progress, acknowledging people and groups for their participation.
9. Welcome new goals leveraging strengths across silos and build cross-functional teams to focus on these goals.
10. Encourage and support leadership within and across silos and encourage all to keep raising the bar.

Best of luck with your noble endeavor!
Linda

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