Skip to main content

Silos: the other side of the equation

Try running a silo. Or don't bother -- just say that silos can be good. You risk being branded as unfit for leadership/management. Reason: for the leadership community, silo means a team perceived as "isolated" and therefore the word silo has huge negative connotations.

Are silos always bad? Like good cholesterol, might there be good silos, too?

McKinsey alumni Katzenbach and Vlak and leadership expert Cohn say in their December 2008 HBR article "Silos are not all bad. In fact, they often provide the insulation needed to build world-class pockets of highly specialized know-how that have deep operational expertise, consumer insight, industry experience, and so forth."

Case in point: The group that I founded and led at my former employer was perceived by some as a silo. The group, which was started in the late 90s as a humble user interface COE, changed the practice from user-centric to business process centric. Then, the group went on to innovate a business process centric approach to software development. Finally, the group spun off a business process consulting COE that unified process and IT in a new way. NONE of these value innovations would have been possible without the insulation that comes with good silos.

Should we redefine the word silo by replacing "isolation" with "insulation"? Because, if it was "isolation," my group could not have engaged with 100+ global customers.

Good silos, therefore, might be a necessity if your objective is Growth through Innovation. What has been your experience?


Popular posts from this blog

Explorer mentality Vs conqueror mentality

A fixation on competitors and on beating them is evidence of what Amazon's Jeff Bezos calls a conqueror mentality. In contrast, people waking up in the morning thinking how to innovate for the customer -- and having intense fun innovating -- is evidence of an explorer mentality.

The explorer mentality resulted in Amazon allowing negative reviews of its products. Reacting to this, a book publisher objected, saying "You make money when you sell things." But Bezos thought, "We don't make money when we sell things; we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions." So explorer mentality also demands a willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time.

During his 16 years as CEO, Bezos' Amazon has delivered shareholder returns of 12,266% (industry-adjusted), and the company's value has grown by $111 billion. More in HBR Jan-Feb 2013.

M&A perspective: IT staffing Vs IT consulting

This report is a simple analysis by HT Capital -- a boutique investment banking firm in New York. It basically makes the point that being a staffing company (Vs consulting company) does not provide adequate returns to most investors, especially from an M&A perspective.

Peter Rozsa, co-author of the report, is a Senior Managing Director at HT Capital. He was also my "classmate" at a Columbia Business School executive education program. I have Peter's permission to make the report available here.

Click to download PDF report.

Corrupt media: lessons for better behavior

During the US election cycle, so-called "liberal" media outlets have been misleading the people of America and the world. They focused our attention on Trump's bad WORDS instead of on Clinton's bad ACTIONS. Even their polls and predictions were totally wrong.

Post-election, they continue to fuel division, violence, and racism.

US election reporting in India too has been hate-filled (Chidanand, for example).

In the midst of all this is a fresh, objective voice. Chetan Bhagat is not only an intellectual, but a rare truth-speaker. Here are 5 things he tells the elitist media:

You are not as smart as you thinkPeople are the keyUnfair criticism always backfiresDo not impose your views on othersGet out of the bubble.
Here's his original article.