By Mark Sutton – Artistic Director of Learning and Development
Before I came to the big city, I lived in a small town. I grew up in a farm community in rural Indiana and, like so many areas similar to it, the landscape was dotted with silos.
You learn very early about the purpose of these giant, concentrated storage areas. You get to know their purpose and, most importantly, their dangers.
Just because an idea doesn’t come from your silo, doesn’t mean it’s less valuable. We seek opinions from multiple sources to take advantage of fresh perspectives.
Silos are vital in farming. They store much needed resources until those resources are in need. They help farmers manage the flow of the resource and allow them to control revenue. When used correctly, silos can be a huge asset to business.
But…they are also deadly. Stay too long in a particular silo and you can become overwhelmed by the dust and debris that naturally gather inside. You can choke to death or accidently be buried alive in corn, wheat or beans.
And silos are highly combustible. Farmers take great care around silos to not create sparks, because the stored energy can make them explode.
Business silos are no different.
Silos may, by necessity stand separately, but they must work fluidly together to attain organizational success.
Sometimes bunching, or creating clusters of resources for a specific purpose can save time and money. It can keep people focused and lead to clarity of purpose. But stay too long in the silo, and things can get dangerous. That’s when people stop communicating, stop trusting, stop appreciating and stop working together.
At Second City Works, we are experts in helping companies manage and make more fruitful the silo mentality. Workplace silos are not all that different from our environment. Actors have their job, directors have theirs, crew, producers, bartenders, and all have a unique area of focus and expertise that must be tended to in order to be successful. But, unlike many silos cultures, the walls that separate us are easily moved, adjusted or broken down to achieve the greater goal. This allows teams, divisions and companies to collaborate more effectively for stronger, longer lasting ideas…and it can keep the sparks away from the silos to avoid an explosion.
- How do we approach managing that?
- Communication is key. Not just talking, truly communicating. You must be able to connect to the people with jobs and areas of focus that are different from your own.
- Appreciate the difference. That connection helps us see that not everyone views the problems and issues in the same way we do. We don’t have to agree, but we must be open to understanding.
- Be open to possibility. Just because an idea doesn’t come from your silo, doesn’t mean it’s less valuable. We seek opinions from multiple sources to take advantage of fresh perspectives.
- Surrender the need to be right. Silos may, by necessity stand separately, but they must work fluidly together to attain organizational success. If you can give up the need to always have it “your way” and support the functions of other silos as best you can, you will work together far more openly and candidly.
All of these skills are born from the core Second City concept of “Yes, And.” True “Yes, And” cultures stay focused on particular goals while always striving to be open, accepting and supportive to the goals of others and to the skills, ideas and talents that all parts of the organization can provide. That is how we find success.
And, as any farmer can tell you, when you manage your silos correctly you will maximize all your individual crops and your farm will thrive.