Just recently, I met a marketing manager friend who told me that a large international company was just now beginning to set up new structures and processes to break up silos. Their goal is to better coordinate communication and project work and avoid redundancies and resource shortages.
I was a bit surprised that the company was only just now getting started, since the agile way of working was developed more than 25 years ago for software development. But, OK, better late than never.
I began to wonder what the changes would mean for all those who stayed inside their comfort zones. They built up a network there, and they accumulated knowledge and experience in the belief that they would still be able to apply it in the years to come.
Today, in many areas, business skills are seen to be more important than long-tended sets of knowledge. Many companies train their employees on new technologies and processes but fail to enable them with social and soft skills – the very things that are needed to work in agile and lean ways and to break up silos.
For years, I’ve been concerned with this point of friction, and some time ago I started to share some reflections on it in some of my articles. If you want to keep up in today’s business world, boost innovation, and support the development of the business, individuals need to begin by analyzing themselves
Professionals can gain the skills needed to become more comfortable in an environment that constantly changes with coaching and training. But, of course, there’s the risk that new approaches aren’t adopted, which leads to frustration. How nice it would be if you had someone on site to show you and others the way to work across the boundaries of silos in new agile teams.
For me, that person would have many skills of a scrum master, who is guiding a cross-functional team to stay focused and follow the pre-identified sprint goals, but that’s not enough. Scrum masters mostly deal with current projects and necessities while being less concerned with the long-lasting processes and methods needed in an agile and lean environment. Anti-Silo Officers should be part of management, live lean management philosophies, encouraging and enabling others to share knowledge, open siloed teams and structures to work collaboratively in cross-functional teams, help others to understand stakeholders’ and business needs and set up and enable agile processes.
Therefore, my question: Why haven’t there already Chief Anti-Silo Officers been established in every company?