The word ‘silo’ has its roots in the Greek term ‘siros,’ which means ‘corn pit.’ Later, the word ‘silo’ was used by Western military units to describe underground chambers that were used to house missiles. Now, managers use the term ‘silo’ as an analogy for business systems, groups, or processes that work separately from one another.  Silos can destroy a company’s ability to effectively harness their people’s best thinking.

There are numerous examples of silos crippling communication and the sharing of insights that could have led to competitive advantage. Sony’s inability to follow up its tremendous success with the Walkman in portable music was in large part due to silos within the organization.

Because of its lack of internal coordination and communication, Sony introduced two different digital Walkman devices in 1999. This disjointed strategy allowed Apple to seize the market for portable music  players. As Sony CEO Howard Stringer lamented, “What went wrong at Sony? Silos were a big part of it. Sony is a company with too many silos!”

Does your team have strategy conversations on a consistent basis with other functional groups in the organization?Having facilitated hundreds of strategy conversations between cross-functional teams, I’ve identified several techniques on the training card you can use to effectively span the silos in your company.

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