xScion Blog

How to Remove 6 Barriers that Cause Organizational Silos

Jan 30, 2020

6 Barries to Remove Organizational Silos

Do you suffer from organizational silos? 86% of polled employees and executives blame a lack of collaboration or bad communication for team problems and failures.

 

How to Accelerate Agile: Organizational Silos is the last part of a three-webinar series that addresses challenges that arise when there is a gap between an organization’s intent and reality due to lack of collaboration and poor communication. An organization may intend to create an environment that fosters business agility, seamless coordination, innovation and faster product delivery times, but it can find itself held back by conflicting goals and motivations within teams and lack of focus on the big picture. Agile expert Bhavani Krishnan and xScion Chief Transformation Officer Mason Chaudhry discuss six barriers to closing the gap between intention and reality with practical advice on how to address these challenges.

 

Barrier #1: Roles and Responsibilities

The rise of cross-functional teams has led to more conflicted roles and leadership. The ideal cross-functional team should be self-sustainable. It includes all areas within the team (analyst, developer, tester, etc.) and can manage every aspect of the software development lifecycle. But in reality, there can be silos due to team members coming from different areas and bringing their own agendas.

 

As an example, the roles of a project manager and scrum master are different, with a project manager being more directive and a scrum master being a team facilitator. Roles, such as scrum master, should be well-defined and similar throughout the organization regardless of the different skill sets and backgrounds of the individuals in the roles. Leaders should create nominal roles and responsibilities with uniformity across the enterprise.

 

Barrier #2: Disparate Teams - Different Strokes

What can leaders do with other leaders at all levels (vice presidents, directors etc.) to reconcile conflicted interests and teams?

 

Look for signs:

  • Task duplication
  • Lack of collaboration
  • Broken customer experience

Barrier #3: Disruptive Politics - the Elephant in the Room

Education, good processes, effective tool usage and smart teams are no match for the politics that divide teams and people. Organizational politics always exist, but to minimize their negative impacts leaders can create bridges, liaisons and individual links between factions.

 

Barrier #4: Bi-modal Approach

What is the cause and effect of having a legacy group of teams focused on “Lights On” functions and an innovative team myopic to change and disruption?

 

Legacy teams could have low morale due to peoples’ concern with being sunsetted out or not being on the cutting edge or part of the future of the organization. Consider creating holistic, integrated teams that divide time and tasks between new and legacy applications. This not only benefits the morale of individuals; it also has organizational value as it prepares people for eventual migration and contributes to building a cohesive team culture.

 

Barrier #5: Functional Structure

Do your business agility aspirations match your actual corporate structure? Are hiring, pay and promotion practices in line with aspirations?

 

Keep your eyes on the big picture and hire for attitude and cultural fit- including outside contractors. Rather than see contractors as bodies to be utilized, consider them as part of the team and align them with organizational goals, thinking and culture.

 

Barrier #6: Culture - Strong Foundation

Agility across the enterprise requires a strong culture of buy-in. Does your organization promote a seamless, frictionless, silo-less culture? One thing you can do immediately is to start assessing. Are leaders at every level having the right cultural influence? Assess culture and team happiness on a quarterly basis alert for trends, successes and potential issues.

 

Key Takeaways

In the first webinar in the series the focus was on Ceremonies - getting the nuts and bolts down. The second webinar focused on Culture and the importance of everybody buying into the big picture so that they are all heading in one direction. This final webinar addresses the challenge of organizational silos and divergent goals and aspirations among departments and team members.

 

How can organizational silos be addressed to accelerate agile? 

  • Understand nominal roles
  • Understand teams and how they can work together
  • Assess where you are to understand problems and create holistic teams
  • Create bridges and liaisons between teams and departments to align everyone with the big picture, organizational direction

Watch the full webinar series on-demand here.