The Silo Slayer: Facilitation

20 Dec 2023

The Silo Slayer: How Facilitation Conquers the Collaboration Kryptonite

The image of a vibrant, collaborative workplace might seem like a fantasy, but the reality is that many organizations grapple with the dreaded silo monster. These isolated pockets within companies, often departments or teams, act as barriers to communication, innovation, and ultimately, success. But fear not, intrepid adventurers! Just like Superman has his kryptonite, the silo monster has its kryptonite too: facilitation.

a group of superheroes with speech bubbles talking about the power of working across silos and collaborating

Silos: The Evil Overlords of Inefficiency

Imagine information trapped in a vault, fresh ideas bouncing off invisible walls, and team members operating on separate planets. That's the harsh reality of silos. Research by Harvard Business Review found that 85% of employees believe lack of collaboration hinders their performance. A Gartner study revealed that 74% of executives rate poor communication as a major obstacle to achieving goals. These are just a few statistics that paint a grim picture of the silo effect.

The Facilitation Force: Breaking Down Walls, Building Bridges

A skilled facilitator acts like a Gandalf leading the Fellowship through the treacherous Mines of Moria, guiding diverse perspectives and fostering open communication. Here's how facilitation brings down the silo walls:

  • Safe Spaces for Dialogue: Facilitation creates a platform where everyone feels heard and respected, encouraging honest and productive conversations across silos. A study by MIT found that teams with psychological safety, enabled by effective facilitation, were 270% more effective at communicating and collaborating.
  • Shared Goals, United Front: By helping teams identify their common ground, facilitation lays the foundation for collaborative problem-solving and goal setting. A report by Forbes highlights that organisations with strong cross-functional collaboration achieve 20% higher profitability.
  • Trust Bridges, Not Drawbridges: Through guided activities and icebreakers, facilitation helps break down barriers and build rapport between individuals from different silos. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that strong interpersonal relationships within teams lead to 50% higher productivity.
  • Innovation Unleashed: Facilitation techniques like brainstorming and design thinking can unleash the combined creative power of diverse teams, leading to groundbreaking ideas. A McKinsey & Company report emphasises that fostering collaboration is crucial for driving innovation and staying ahead of the curve.

Remember, slaying the silo monster is an ongoing quest, not a one-time feat. By incorporating regular facilitation into your organisational culture, you can create a more connected, collaborative, and ultimately, more successful workplace.

A diverse team of 8 are standing around a central desk in a light office space with glass walls. Sticky notes on the desk and windows. The team are celebrating and smiling together, trying to high five.

An insight...

Picture this: You're knee-deep in a project. Marketing's buzzing about a killer campaign, Sales is pushing a new product line, and EMEA is prepping for a regional launch. Sounds exciting, right? But here's the rub – you only know your own silo's story. In my time navigating the labyrinthine corridors of Big Corp, this siloed reality was all too familiar. I'd mention initiatives in meetings, only to be met with blank stares and "wait, what project?" moments. Even in the shiniest, most successful corporations, information got bottled up, walls went up, and collaboration took a backseat to departmental agendas.

But fear not, my fellow silo-dwellers! There's a secret weapon for dissolving these barriers: the power of mixed teams. Imagine sales, marketing, EMEA, APAC, and even the US team converging into a single, purpose-driven unit. That's exactly what happened when I spearheaded a customer success sprint for the organisation. We brought together a multi-talented crew, all with one mission: to hear a customer's pain points and co-create solutions.

The magic started the moment we broke free from our departmental bubbles. Suddenly, the buzzwords and metrics morphed into real-world problems, faced by a real human being. We listened, empathised, and, most importantly, collaborated. Silos? Blown. Blind spots? Illuminated.

The customer sprint wasn't just about delivering solutions; it was about a shared epiphany. We saw how our siloed efforts, when woven together, formed a tapestry of value. The marketing campaign resonated deeper, the new product addressed a genuine need, and EMEA's regional launch found fertile ground. It was a beautiful mess of brainstorming, cross-pollination, and a collective "Aha!" moment.

So, the next time you find yourself lost in your own silo, remember the power of the mixed team. Break down the walls, invite your colleagues on an adventure, and see what happens when you listen to the customer – together. It might just be the most successful project you'll ever work on.

P.S. Bonus points for stealing a page from our playbook and running your own customer sprint. Trust me, the shared perspective and collaborative buzz are addictive!

  • Share your own silo-slaying stories and strategies via our LinkedIn
  • Let me know if you have any questions about how facilitation can empower your teams.

Together, let's build a world where silos crumble and collaboration reigns supreme!

Remember, the future of work is not about working harder, but about working smarter and together. Let's break down the walls and build something truly great!

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Ben Rouse is the founder and head facilitator at Evolving Design, who help teams collaborate, problem solve and achieve their ambitious goals.

Ben worked as a teacher and trainer before moving into facilitation, bringing his expertise together to facilitate team experiences.