Information silos can trigger issues and handicap your crisis management
True crisis preparedness requires more than a plan, it requires the right corporate culture. Part of ensuring the right corporate culture means adapting the right mindset.
Something that I see many organizations suffer from – especially large organizations that have been around for decades – is an information silo’d mindset, and thus culture.
What is an information silo, you ask?
I enjoy whatis.com‘s definition, take a look:
“An information silo is a business division or group of employees within an organization that fails to communicate freely or effectively with other groups, including management. When an organization’s culture does not encourage employees to share knowledge and work collaboratively, information silos can grow quite quickly and prevent the organization from responding to changing market conditions in an agile manner.”
Information silos are a result of a mindset that tends to trickle down from the top and embeds itself into the culture of the organization over time. It’s a more traditional (a.k.a. old, dated) mindset that, today, ends up resulting in anything from issues that could have otherwise been mitigated, to the mismanagement of crises, which can be catastrophic for the organization involved. And all of this due to a lack of a collaborative mindset and culture.
How to change a silo’d corporate culture
Firstly, you need to identify if this is in fact an issue for your organization. More often than not it’s clear and commonly known internally, so poke around and ask your employees and colleagues for their feedback and sentiment – if you don’t already know the answer yourself.
If you come to the realization that your organization is in fact being hindered by an information silo’d culture and want to set out to change this, following are some actionable ideas to help get you started. Unfortunately, this type of culture is developed over time, which means that it can be difficult to change. But if you’re focused on setting this as a long-term goal and taking small actions each day to break down the mindset barriers, your efforts will pay off.
- Educate your team – together, not individually
Hold a town hall (or something similar) and teach your employees the benefits of a collaborative mindset and the repercussions that can result due to a lack-thereof. Let them know that implementing a cross-departmental collaborative work environment is an objective that management is going to support and that everyone should work together to strive to achieve.
- Make an effort to reward collaboration amongst departments
Acknowledgement and positive reinforcement will go a long way.
- Conduct team building exercises that are cross-departmental
Some organizations do this naturally, while others tend to have their department heads decide on team-building exercises for solely their departments. If the latter represents your organization, you may want to rethink this approach.
- Physically relocate your employees within different departments to sit together, at least for a little while
Physically sitting amongst each other will go a long way in showing how seriously management is taking this initiative, and will help in fostering relationships and natural collaboration. Knowing what another department does and building collegial relationships with them (which happens organically through regular interaction) will keep those team members top of mind when a potential issue or dilemma comes up that would benefit from their perspective.
The whole goal here is to lead by example and to instil a culture that encourages collaboration, frequent discussions and begins to break down those inner silos. Aim to make inter-departmental collaboration instinctive, rather than an afterthought and you’ll see a subsequent positive shift in your organization’s corporate culture that will naturally positively impact your crisis preparedness.
Good luck and have fun!
Photo credit: Pressmaster/shutterstock.com
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.