I was recently working with an organisation that like many organisations is super siloed. Nobody really knows what is going on in other parts of the organisation, people are have a devastating information deficit and that lack of commonly held information and understanding costs money, creates confusion, slows things down. It also generates more and more secrecy and politics and power (after all information is power).
This is pretty common and is a big problem in big businesses because they treat the organisation like separate sections on a fictional chart when the reality is that everything is interconnected.
There is one simple thing you can do which goes a long way in solving this: openness. I’ll explain this in a sec, but first: a useful metaphor.
The analogy I use is redwood trees. Redwoods are the biggest, oldest, tallest, heaviest trees around, yet they have really shallow roots. The reason they still manage to hold up is because they all connect underground through their roots. Creating a wonderful root system where they feed each other. Everybody is serving everybody. If you were to cut roots between two areas, you would be cutting of food supply to the whole system.
Well information is the same. When we cut off information from each other we starve the whole system. Everybody suffers. That means that anything on a local hard drive starves the system, any message sent in a 1–2–1 forum starves the system, anything that isn’t available to everyone starves the whole system. It stops learning, growth, speed, innovation, everything basically.
Open it up and watch it happen
Which is why my first tip which is also the single biggest win any organisation can make is make as much info as possible open to everybody. No new structures or processes needed, just open it up and you will see behaviours change, actions take place…etc as the whole system naturally adapts to an open systemic approach.
Simple specific examples could be: work from a shared server, or collaborative docs, speak in open forums like Slack…etc.
Disempower the powerful through openness
These aren’t radical. If you don’t want to share stuff, there is other stuff going on like lack of trust, power nonsense, political bullshit…etc. Doing this really disempowers such behaviours because as I’ve said before (part 1; part 2), empowering people is great, but the great thing about openness is that it also disempowers those using power too much. You can’t accumulate power when information is shared because tightly held information is the only real weapon to gain power.
So if you’re trying to help your company be a better place to work or to perform better. The smallest thing you personally can do, is share all your docs and speak in open places. It’ll have a beautiful ripple effect I promise.