This weeks blog contribution is from Steve Pinnock from Performance & Event Management Ltd.

At both micro and macro levels, organisations face hidden obstacles to co-operation and collaboration. The consequences include poor internal and external relationships and impaired growth. Recently the UK media have reported concern across many business sectors about the anti-trust legislation which outlaws cross-market and intra-industry consultation and collaboration. They are requesting Government approval for a suspension of such regulations in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to enable co-operation to protect vital supply chains. That situation is at one extreme end of a spectrum, where the silos we are describing mostly occur within organisations and are not generally the subject of legal restrictions.

A quote from the former Chairman of General Electric includes the concern that “Without a radical shift in everyday working behaviour—in employees’ relationships with the company and with one another—silos will remain, and the sort of … collaboration that companies … need to foster … growth is not going to happen.” This prediction is featured in the opening section of a revealing briefing from McKinsey & Co. Follow this link for more information:

The briefing states that “…silos are the enemy of healthy organisations and strong economic performance.” It cites research indicating that “83% of executives said that silos exist in their companies” and that “97% of executives think that silos have a negative effect”.

Other conclusions reached by McKinsey, based on their research and client case studies, were that:
• Overcoming silos requires end-to-end operating models and a strong dose of transparency, accountability, and coordination
• Fragmentation in organisational networks comes about when employees neglect relationships with colleagues outside their regular work flow
• It is important to bridge the gaps by identifying “brokers,” people who boost information flow and collaboration between functions, departments, divisions, hierarchical and tenure levels, and physical locations
• A “broker” strengthens ties between employees beyond their primary departments and functions, leading to a more robust organisational network.
Overcoming silos requires end-to-end operating model
McKinsey employ a lot of clever people and have the intellectual advantage over us. We see many practical examples, however, of corporate clients for whom improved internal communication can lead to a wide range of benefits. Although we can see the value in McKinsey’s research and advice, from our perspective there are less subtle but more immediate actions that are available, both for tactical as well as strategic performance improvement.

Dialogue is the oil that lubricates the communication network and facilitates the exchange of information and ideas. Cross-fertilisation of experiences and observations becomes the genesis of novel applications and solutions. Relationships must first be formed and then regularly reinforced, for these benefits to be felt.

We have seen plenty of evidence that live events are a very effective way to increase harmony and unity, innovation and enterprise. The return on investment can be both instant and sustainable in the long-term, with the right commitment and leadership. Examples of events that encourage co-operation and remove obstacles to progress include internal and external meetings, conferences, presentations and product launches, hospitality, recognition and awards events and incentive travel programmes.