A problem for many high growth companies is that their operations are changing at such a rapid rate that their culture and intentional strategies fall by the wayside. At the same time, they probably have a strong external marketing campaign adding fuel to the growth.
Silos that didn't exist before begin popping up like mushrooms almost overnight.
The silos may take the form of new divisions or additional locations. Or they might be leadership's "curse of knowledge" and failure to communicate vision and brand throughout the company.
In other cases, tremendous growth in one business unit may lead to neglect of others.
No matter their shape and size, silos are barriers that hinder progress. The previously high-growth organization may screech to a halt. Here are some practical examples of the damage silos do:
- they blot out the view
- they can be dangerous
- they insulate to a fault
- they take hard work to break down
silos blot out the view
They're massive, solid structures that are difficult to see around. The closer you get to a silo, the more likely you are to see nothing else. To keep innovating and growing, everyone in the organization must have a clear view of customers and their needs.
If employees can only see a looming obstacle in front of them, their creativity and problem solving abilities are stymied. Employees will be frustrated—and so will customers.
silos can be dangerous
When the contents of a silo aren't handled carefully, dramatic explosions occur.
A company that's overfilling existing space and opening new locations must use caution. Hiring quickly without attention to finding candidates who share the company purpose—or delaying critical onboarding processes—may be sacrifices made to meet production needs. This can be especially difficult when blending the cultures of merging organizations.
Effective communication between disparate offices and growing departments requires new resources and processes. A strong intranet and sharing tools are essential.
Ignoring these matters is like ignoring safety precautions in a grain elevator. When people on the inside aren't pulling in the same direction—or even sure of what the direction is—their friction can create one disastrous spark. High turnover, rumor mongering and customer dissatisfaction are expensive and difficult to fight.
silos insulate—to a fault
Silos make finger pointing easier. Just try to differentiate your brand with a service promise while you have silos. You'll have dissonance instead.
What if Sales and Engineering are in a battle? Is Production in the middle? What is Customer Service to do?
"Growth at all costs" mentality can cause a high growth company to implode. If sales skyrocket, can production keep pace? Do resentments or power struggles grow? What about quality of service? When process is short-changed, client satisfaction suffers.
We all cringe when we hear "that's not my department." Whether the phrase is spoken employee-to-colleague or employee-to-customer, it creates a culture of "can't do" and "won't do." And that's a sure-fire way to alienate customers.
silos take hard work to break down
A thriving brand is built from the inside out. It's achieved with intention and attention. And that takes time. If silos have developed in your organization, don't delay because it may take a while to break them down and haul off the rubble.
Realize that people may have become accustomed to their silos. And though they might be a little uncomfortable, they're familiar—and there's a strange comfort in that. As a leader, adopt a zero-tolerance approach and get to work.
build your brand from the inside
No amount of advertising and brand building can overcome a culture full of silos. Bring people from all departments onto your demolition team. Develop your own in-house "multi level marketing" approach and blast away. Then work together on marketing strategy that makes you powerful from the inside out.