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Work in silo

Business silos occur when people, departments or systems within one organization do not share the same priorities and goals.

In my opinion, this challenge should be addressed from two perspectives: information silo and silo mentality, which are connected to each other.

An information silo is a system that is not communicating freely with other information systems. Data silo is when data remain in the system used by one department is isolated from others. I am sure everyone can give an example from own experience, but not everyone has ever thought about the roots of the issue.

Information silo occurs due to technical or cultural habits, when systems and processes within the company are built vertically, and it is impossible for the system to work with unrelated systems. Sometimes it is really challenging to get the required information from other departments. Why? Unless the company has security issues, and all the information is classified as confidential, the reasons for not sharing it can be technical or mental.

Technical roots come from the technical inability of the systems to complete certain tasks, and extra time required from the personnel to prepare data. With modern technology and new innovative digital tools, this problem can be addressed. But what about the other side of the story? Silo mentality.

Why managers and departments do not wish to share information and knowledge? This mindset can be caused by the following reasons.  The department leaders have their own agenda, as a result, they create frustration among the employees who cannot freely communicate. All communication goes vertically, via heads of departments, who in their turn, disagree with each other.

There can be several reasons why departments leaders disagree, but as a rule, it comes from the inability of the company CEO to assign clear and SMART objectives, empower managers and motivate them towards a common goal.

I don’t say that we should “blame” executives. Sometimes it’s simply impossible to change the mindset of certain department managers from working in a silo. Usually, it caused by their own uncertainty or non-confidence in themselves, and they, instead of sharing, work towards keeping knowledge for themselves.

I don’t know the answer to this issue. It is a problem because I cannot call it “challenge” which can be solved more or less easily.

But what I do know is that performance excellence can be achieved by creating digital solutions for the maritime industry to get to the new development level.

By Olga Brattekaas