Tulisan kali ini tentang manajemen, lebih spesifiknya kita akan membahas “Silo Mentality“. Namun sebelumnya saya ingin berterimakasih kepada Pak Muhamad Husen yang menjabat sebagai Direktur Hulu di perusahaan saya berkarya saat ini. Kenapa harus berterimakasih? Sebab dari Beliau-lah saya pertama kali mengenal istilah Silo Mentality.
Pak Husen memiliki cara tersendiri dalam berbagi ilmu, semangat, informasi, terobosan maupun media merangkum ide-ide gila dari jajaran dibawahnya. Media tersebut adalah tulisan. Tulisan-tulisan Beliau tentang progresivitas memajukan usaha bidang hulu di-broadcast kepada seluruh pekerja perusahaan melalui email bertajuk “Catatan Direktur Hulu”. Sungguh menyenangkan memiliki Direktur yang gemar menulis dan berbagi ide/semangat melalui tulisan.
Kalau bicara soal Direktur yang menulis pikiran saya langsung melompat pada sosok yang saat ini menjabat sebagai Menteri BUMN . Benar, Pak Dahlan Iskan. Abah DIS (panggilan akrab beliau) saat menjabat sebagai CEO PLN senantiasa istiqomah menulis tiap minggunya mengenai kendala yang dihadapi PLN. Bukan hanya kendala, beliau juga menawarkan solusi, mengevaluasi, menyampaikan visi masa depan, memotivasi, memuji langsung (sebut nama) kinerja para jajaran/anak buah dan hal-hal positif lainnya. Hebatnya tulisan itu bisa dibaca oleh semua orang diseluruh dunia. PLN menjadi jauh lebih baik.
Sampai disini saya tiba-tiba bergumam seandainya saja seluruh Direktur yang ada di perusahaan saya ini mau melakukan hal serupa dengan yang dilakukan Pak Husen atau Abah DIS maka bisa dibayangkan berapa besar kemajuan yang bisa diraih. Betapa banyaknya ilmu yang bisa dibagikan. Betapa masif, luas dan kuatnya pengaruh yang bisa diberikan. Itulah hebatnya goresan pena berupa tulisan, ketimbang ucapan yang hanya di lisan. Tulisan adalah “manuskrip abadi” yang bisa bertahan sampai jangka waktu yang sangat lama. Ia adalah warisan terbaik yang bisa ditinggalkan untuk generasi kemudian.
Kembali ke bahasan Silo Mentality (SM). Terus terang, di kantor maya milik Mbah Google saya berusaha mencari banyak informasi berupa berita maupun artikel tentang SM. Sedikit sekali yang berbahasa indonesia. Kalaupun ada penjelasan memakai bahasa indonesia maka itu hanya sebatas definisi singkat saja atas kata “Silo” dan “Mentality”.
Berikut beberapa informasi yang saya simpulkan dari beberapa artikel “Silo Management” yang berhasil terkumpul. Btw, mohon maaf kalau belum sempat saya terjemahkan dan masih dalam bahasa inggrisnya dari sana. Semoga tulisan yang sedikit ini bermanfaat untuk kita semua. Tetap istiqomah.
Definition of ‘Silo Mentality’
An attitude found in some organizations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same company. A silo mentality reduces efficiency and can be a contributing factor to a failing corporate culture.
A mind-set present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.
An information silo is a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related information systems. For example, a bank’s management system is considered a silo if it cannot exchange information with other related systems within its own organization, or with the management systems of its customers, vendors, or business partners. “Information silo” is a pejorative expression that is useful for describing the absence of operational reciprocity. In Information Technology, the absence of operational reciprocity is between disparate systems also commonly referred to as disparate data systems. Derived variants are “silo thinking”, “silo vision”, and “silo mentality”.
The expression is typically applied to management systems where the focus is inward and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among departments difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical. They hold that silos tend to limit productivity in practically all organizations, provide greater opportunity for security lapses and privacy breaches, and frustrate consumers who increasingly expect information to be immediately available and complete.
As of 2010 the phrase “silo effect”, popular in the business and organizational communities, refers to a lack of communication and common goals between departments in an organization. It is the opposite of systems thinking in an organization. The silo effect gets its name from the farm storage silo; each silo is designated for one specific grain.
A lack of communication causes departmental thinking to lack ideas from other departments. A notable example of the silo effect in the real world is the beer distribution game, whose goal is to meet customer demand for cases of beer, through a multi-stage supply chain with minimal expenditure on back orders and inventory. Communication is against the rules so feelings of confusion and disappointment are common.
Another, slightly more academic, suggestion as to the term silo effect focuses on the gradual draining of the entire silo’s grain from a remarkably small opening in the bottom. The homogeneous state of the entire volume of grain makes it highly susceptible to small changes as they occur further and further down. This is because gravity, although apparently “unimportant” to a fully contained silo, suddenly shows itself to be an underlying force binding every single grain—something which becomes apparent when an “anomaly” occurs at the bottom. Moreover, the nature of grain makes it an excellent example of a “poorly connected” substance, prone to cascades of extreme collapse when they occur in favor of the systems overriding unified force. In this case, gravity. If the grain were more like a soapy foam, or even a gel, such a terrible collapse would be intrinsically averted, by means of the distributed multidirectional stability of its parts.
Smashing Silos (by Evan Rosen)
No business, institution, or government agency is immune from silo syndrome in which barriers develop among the organization’s many parts. But adopting collaborative culture, processes, and tools can keep silo syndrome in check and create greater value.
The term “silo” is a metaphor suggesting a similarity between grain silos that segregate one type of grain from another and the segregated parts of an organization. In an organization suffering from silo syndrome, each department or function interacts primarily within that “silo” rather than with other groups across the organization. Marketing may develop its own culture and have difficulty interacting with other functions such as sales or engineering. This manifestation of silo syndrome breeds insular thinking, redundancy, and suboptimal decision-making.
Silo syndrome can also impact business units, wreaking havoc with customers. In a typical scenario, separate sales organizations for each business unit fail to coordinate. When sales representatives from different silos call on the same people, customers may conclude that the vendor either has no regard for his or her time or that the salespeople and the company they represent are disorganized. Unless the vendor is the only game in town, the customer may look elsewhere.
Silos also commonly extend to systems and data. As systems fail to interact and data becomes trapped and unavailable to decision-makers outside the silo, people are less likely to interact. When people are culturally inhibited from interacting across departments and functions, they avoid sharing data and information outside of their silos. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can cost an organization in agility, productivity, and responsiveness.
Command-and-control-oriented cultures breed silos. In such cultures, fear prevails. Managers focus on guarding turf rather than on engaging colleagues outside their group. Instead of reaching across the organization, people in command-and-control cultures primarily move information and decisions vertically. If it seems necessary to involve another department or function, a team member runs the idea up the flagpole within his or her silo. Then it’s up to a more senior manager whether to engage another department, function, or business unit. Talk about collaboration roadblocks.
Senior leaders are by no means immune to silo syndrome. In some organizations, leaders of business units and functions focus more on managing their teams and their relationships with the CEO than on collaborating across the organization. Silos can also occur among organizational levels when team members are either inhibited or discouraged from engaging senior leaders without going through channels. Also, senior leaders may feel inhibited from engaging front-line workers.
In collaborative organizations, people interact spontaneously regardless of level, role, or region. This encourages broad input into product and service development, process improvements, and marketing campaigns. Rather than present a marketing plan or campaign after it’s already developed, why not get sales, finance, and corporate communications involved early? Then the plan has cross-functional buy-in baked right in. And it’s likely a stronger plan, because it reflects less-insular input.
In the product design arena, command-and-control organizations inform factory workers what they’ll be building and how. These workers are on a need-to-know basis. Collaborative organizations engage factory workers in the design of the products and the manufacturing processes. This breaks down the barriers between product development and manufacturing and reduces the impact of silos. The collaborative approach also reduces product development time and ultimately produces a better result. Toyota expects team members at every level of the organization to participate in process improvements and decisions. The Mayo Clinic innovates patient services by bringing facilities people, doctors, nurses, electricians, and marketers together to develop prototypes.
Here are five steps to smashing silos:
Eliminate Needless Formality and Hierarchy
Formality fuels silos and poisons collaboration, because people become overly concerned with protocol and politics. When formality is unchecked, team members feel it’s better to play it safe than to risk gaining unwanted attention. The organization becomes distracted and people are less likely to reach across silos to innovate, develop new markets, and make better decisions. Eliminate the need to “go through channels” and minimize cultural requirements of going through assistants, administrators, and handlers before engaging leaders.
Provide One-Click Access to Entire Organization
Finding and connecting with experts and colleagues spontaneously is key to curing silo syndrome. We should be able to view the availability or “presence status” of everybody in the organization and connect with them immediately through instant messaging, voice, or real-time video. Regardless of level, role, or region, everybody is potentially available to everybody else. Unified communications and collaboration systems provide this capability.
Design Dedicated Physical Spaces for Collaboration
With the proliferation of collaborative tools and the focus on collaborating at a distance, it’s easy to forget the value of same-room collaboration. Design collaborative physical spaces where team members can come together in a relaxed setting to brainstorm new products and services, innovate processes, and work cross-functionally to create solutions. Make the spaces configurable on the fly so that users can design their environments as needed.
Adopt Common Systems and Processes
When systems interact, people are more likely to interact. Establish common platforms and systems across the organization and give people access to the same data and information. This also discourages information hoarding, which can compromise collaboration.
Establish Cross-Functional Mentoring
Encourage team members to find mentors in other functions, business units, and regions. This develops the workforce by exposing people to areas outside their expertise. In time, they will cross-pollinate by seeking and accepting assignments across the organization. This reduces the impact of silos by enhancing cross-functional interaction while giving team members greater exposure in multiple areas.