End Collaboration Silos



Help the Future of Work break out of its silo. The social collaboration & leadership required for the future of work is central to how we organise for human potential & productivity, not a bolt on. We can’t create great Responsive Organisations playing around the edges.

Why bother with the Social Collaboration? Isn’t that an HR issue?

Ask most CEOs and they will tell you they wish their people could better leverage what they collectively know. Look closely at the broken processes in your organisation and you will find consistent issues of poor engagement, knowledge management or collaboration. Senior managers want to be more ‘digital and more agile’ but they are frustrated they can’t generate more innovation and change in their organisations. The poor customer outcomes, broken processes and the purposeless work that results are at the heart of the issues impacting productivity, employee engagement and the customer experience. 

Each of these issues are a sign that traditional management mindsets and approaches are failing to deliver what our organisations need. Importantly they are also failing to realise the potential of people at work. Yet most organisations respond to these issues with more of same structures and systems along with more technology and more management effort. We need an alternative that better leverages human potential, networks and social collaboration. The people who work in the organisation need to be a part of building that alternative. Building that alternative is the Future of Work and it will take leadership and collaboration.

Get Human Potential out of a Silo and into Work

Transformation requires a new conversation about how we work leveraging new organisational structures, new approaches and technologies. The fact that many organisations can’t decide who owns enterprise collaboration technology is a terrible start. We need to shift from questions of who owns collaboration. Traditional thinking leaves ideas like leadership, collaboration, organisational design and the future of work to soft functions and lets hard managers deal with organisational processes and performance.

The future of work offers an exponential opportunity to realise the potential of people. Realising this opportunity will take enterprise-wide leadership & change. You can’t realise people’s full potential without offering them the opportunity to change the core structures, systems and processes of the organisation. Until leaders use enterprise collaboration to create systemic change, it can’t generate the kinds of benefits management wants. If new ways of work stay on the periphery, at best they work only as an employee engagement bandaid.  At worst, they are just technologies organisations have to be trendy.

Collaboration silos and layers lose momentum and fail eventually because collaboration is human and purposeful people need to be empowered to create real change in their day-to-day work. Customers & employees want whole systems of work to improve, not just parts or peripheral tasks.  Without the pressure of demonstrating impact for people to improve their day-to-day work, competing collaboration solutions flourish to the frustration of employees, generating new silos that undermine the benefits for all. Positive impact on the value of work for an employee is a critical test of the value of any collaboration solution.

Moving Collaboration out of the Silo and to Value

Here are a few first steps to help your organisation leverage the potential of its employees and embrace the Future of Work:

  • Embrace the development of human potential: Make the measure of leadership in the organisation the delivery of results through the development of people’s potential.  Anything less is just management and wastes the potential of your people to help.
  • Explore transparency: Ask leaders to role model working out loud. Help them understand the new mindsets. Encourage employees across the organisation to work out loud too. Shift the default disclosure model to open sharing of information in a culture of trust.
  • Empower people to improve their work: Start a leadership conversation at all levels in your organisation about how work can be improved. Define value as value to a customer or other external stakeholder. Give your people the power to make changes as a result of the conversation. Leaders will need to support, participate and facilitate. A critical role for leaders is to ensure participation of others. The conversation will fail if processes or silos are off limits to change.
  • Experiment and learn: Give your people permission and the capability to experiment with creating value in new ways of working. Embrace learning and ensure that the successful experiments are adopted as wide scale change 

With the right leadership conversation, your organisation will begin to explore new models of trust, new ways to create value and start to discover its purpose on this journey. You will know your employees are embracing this new model when they begin to question the other structures & systems in your organisation, like organisational structures, performance management processes or technology systems, that get in the way of their productivity and potential. Your next challenge will be to work with your people to change these bigger systems to realise further value from work.

That work leads directly into the future of work and to a much more responsive organisation. 


Image source: Grain Silo by Hakan Dahlstrom

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