Having taught student leadership for the past three years, I have done a good amount of reading about business leadership. One of my favorite metaphors is that of the silo. I work in education and, much to my dismay, the idea of the silo exists, nay even thrives, in education. For those of you who are uninitiated in this idea of the silo, let me do the quick lesson:
A silo, like the one above, is a solid structure with one goal – containment. As the material stored inside is needed, it is unloaded. In business, a silo is an impromptu structure (no one ever plans to work in a silo) of containment and connotes a lack of communication and common goals between department within an organization. Although there may be a set of common goals for the organization, departments often pay lip-service to these goals, while maintaining their own set of spoken (and, in rare cases, written) goals that differ from and sometimes even work against the common goals. The most “fun” part of an organization with silos is that most everyone plays the game in order to keep everything moving. That movement, however, is never forward – its like moving on a treadmill. There is the illusion of progress, but…well, you can figure out the rest.
It’s funny that the silo above, on a farm here in the valley, is probably surrounded by less crap than a business that works with silos.