I have no problem with business silos, people of like skill sets sitting together often makes sense and if you just rename them as Centres of Excellence the feelings are very different.  See who language creates a mental picture that defines how we view something!  The problem is the need to have open channels of communication and the need to be able to communicate and collaborate for the benefit of the customer if missed and sub-optimal experiences and ultimately  business performance result.

Consider this simple example of internal barriers stopping simple improvements.

I was in a hotel (I have been in a lot over the years) and arrived late into my very nice room.  Now this had a small bar area complete with glasses and drinks you get the picture…what I actually wanted was a cup of tea (how very English) and I found the tea bags but could not find a cup.  I opened all the cupboards and drawers to no avail, at that time of my journey now 15 hours in I was beginning to hallucinate and in the end believed that actually this was such a trendy hotel that I was supposed to use a glass….great plan except that hot drinks and glasses are a tricky combination.

Next morning I awoke and decided to just check again and as I went through the drawers I heard a slight rattle and on investigation found the offending cups lurking in the deepest recesses of the drawer, hidden behind the plate of shortbread.

As I had stayed at the hotel before and got to know the Bar Manager (can’t imagine how that happened) I mentioned this to him and asked that perhaps they could put cups visible in future perhaps at the front of the drawer.  He assured me he would speak to House Keeping as it was not his department.  Over the next couple of days nothing changed so I approached my friendly Bar Manager again and he rather apologetically advised that as it was not their idea the House Keeping team refused to change the ‘process’ and it was now with more senior managers to debate,,,,you’ve guessed it nothing happened.

What was a simple improvement that would have benefited my fellow travellers never saw the light of day because of a ‘not invented here’ view between one team and another.  Of course I would have approached the House Keeping Manager in the first place but they are a bit like the scarlet pimpernel you can never find one when you need one.