The Silo Effect: A Review on Barriers within Companies

Gillian Tett’s book on the Silo Effect has received attention from various business platforms due to its excellent arguments on the concept. Tett argues that the reason most companies fail in their operations is that they carry out their activities in silos, which implies that they are not able to share good ideas and knowledge between them.

The book features examples from various parts of the world. It includes case studies from Sony in Tokyo, Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Ohio, The Chicago police, The Bank of England in London, UBS Bank of Switzerland, The Blue Mountain Hedge Fund, City Hall in New York, and Facebook in San Francisco.

the silo effect

About The Silo Effect

The silo effect is a common mentality applied within companies where different departments fail to share important information among them. Usually, efficiency in such companies is limited with respect to the affected operations, reduced morale to work, and eventually results in reduced productivity. The business world frequently refers to it as departmental silo, and it is problematic for organizations as it destroys work trust, confidence, and harmony. Since the silo effect is seen as an organizational barrier, managers work towards creating a sharing culture for effective cross-functional business solutions to breakdown this mindset.

In writing this book, Tett is able to respond to the following questions about silo effect:

  • Why do people that work in the modern organization collectively behave in ways that would be termed as stupid?
  • Moreover, why do intelligent people sometimes miss the risks and opportunities that appear to be blindingly obvious?
  • Why are we blind to our own blindness in some occasions?

Tett’s book basically argues that although silos may be deliberate at times, people tend to act foolishly when guided by the effect. The many examples illustrated in the book address this fact alongside the various ways in which organizations master their silo.

We look at companies like [Sony and Microsoft] and we see what we don’t want to become.

The Silo Effect: Key Principles

The silo effect can be defined as the left hand not letting the right hand know what it holds. Keeping important information from one another in institutions undermines its operations and Tett uses various examples to illustrate this and how it can be overcome. Reading this book allows you to discover and familiarize with all your blind spots as an individual. The management, on the other hand, is able to identify the silo effect in its organizational settings and learn how it can be eliminated to achieve an improved performance.

Some of the Main Ideas From This Book

  • Organizations suffer from the inability to communicate effectively due to the silo effect. As such, they fail to share profound business ideas among one another affecting their performance.
  • Better integration within institutions can only be achieved through better understanding of the silo effect, its impact, and how it can be broken down.
  • Social norms and categories are some of the factors contributing to the silo effect growth among people in institutions.
  • People working in various institutions ought to consider the contingent nature of their practices while viewing their tribes or categories as temporary factors. This is referred to as a mental discipline that may be difficult to attain in the modern organizations.
  • Occasionally, individuals like the management officials are blinded by the silo effect since they are eager to hold onto their high profile jobs. Their idea is au courant, which they do not realize affects the performance of businesses.
  • Tunnel visions affect institutions and they can be avoided through embracing specialization positively and creating common goals.
  • The silo effect is evident in businesses and the government. Individuals strive to portray their arbitrary systems as natural as shown by the Pierre Bourdieu example given by Tett in her book.

girl reading book

Details of the book

  • The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking down Barriers is a book written by anthropologist Gillian Tett.
  • It was published by Simon and Schuster on the 27th of September, 2016.
  • The 304 page long book is written in English and ranks at number 79248 in the Best Sellers list.
  • The book’s ISBN-10 is 1451644744 while the ISBN-13 is 978-1451644746.

You can buy the book from various websites such as from:

About the Author

Gillian Tett is an author from Britain who works as a journalist for Financial Times in U.S. She is a columnist who engages in topics on finance and markets alongside being the managing editor of the newspaper in U.S. Tett has written various articles on various financial crises with the notable one being the credit default swaps.

  • Her first book was Saving the Sun: How Wall Street Mavericks Shook Up Japan’s Financial World and Made Billions which was published in 2004.
  • However, it is her book, Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets, and Unleashed a Catastrophe that brought attention to her work in 2009. This book even won an award as the financial book of 2009.

She has also won several awards as the journalist of the year in 2007, 2008, and 2009 consecutively. In 2011, she was awarded the President’s medal by the British Academy. This paved her way for being the Business Communicator of the Year in 2012 courtesy of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild. In 2014, Tett was recognized as the Columnist of the Year by the British Press Award with her work being described as provocative and counter-intuitive.

Summing Up the Read

Based on Tett’s argument, it is right to conclude that silo institutions focus on defining power and control over the efficiency of running a business. As a result of the dysfunctional relationship among the workers, the company fails to focus on its customers or the welfare of employees. Although there are benefits of engaging the silo effect in your organization, it is worth noting that a collaborative and team-oriented workforce performs best.

Having a workforce that is founded on trust as well as mutual respect can help engage the ideas and know-how of each personnel in a business. This allows an organization to utilize all its resources fully.

Images: pixabay.com.

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