ShanesAI_grain_silo_with_an_indigo_background_modern_realistic__8448fe1a-8b22-4bcd-853f-822b3c1fc55f (2)

Are You Working in a Silo?

May 1, 2023 - Ellie Gabel

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

Working in silos manifests in several forms, whether someone works in technology or science. It encompasses numerous overarching issues within a team or company, including failure to communicate or dismissive distribution or storing of data. How does it apply to workers and how can teams exit the silo world into a healthier team dynamic? It takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it.

What Does Working in a Silo Mean?

Working in a silo explains a mentality but also represents a tangible team structure. Siloed work structures are when individuals operate in smaller teams within teams, potentially maximizing their mastery by focusing on the tasks they deem most important and where their strengths lie. Though this feels like a surefire way to get the most out of certain employees to expedite projects, this setup fails a key component of business success — communication.

This work rhythm isolates people within their strengths with no opportunity to grow. It also prevents curious minds from expanding their skill sets and finding where they’re best suited. Progress in project-specific initiatives can stall or even regress in a siloed work environment because nobody explains where the project stands or how everyone can be on the same page. That’s because priorities are different across each department. Information can stay hidden when working in silos, gatekeeping information from necessary contributors.

However, what’s potentially even more dangerous are literal silo systems in a workplace. Siloed mentalities make these more complex, but a concrete silo is when people use tech that doesn’t communicate with each other. For example, if one team uses Excel while another uses a different data management system, and these numbers never translate or transfer, how can employees work toward the same goals?

Software, devices and so much more are keystones to company operations, making silo mentalities feel unstoppable within their bubble. Tech and data silos make these mentalities even more challenging to cure, but it’s possible.

Why Is Working in Silos Not Ideal?

Teams scramble for answers and take too long to conjure solutions when technology stacks are too complex and separate data into too many silos. Workflows may feel clunky and desperately need streamlining, and managers may not provide adequate supervision. It prevents teams from collaborating efficiently and progress from occurring, especially when one app stack doesn’t integrate well with another from another silo.

Working in silos prevents stakeholders from understanding the scope of a business. How can they judge a company’s potential valuation with mismatched or inconclusive data? Where is the information from one year and not another to provide insight into projections? Should data from certain departments be in larger quantities than others? All these difficulties say something about data silos that can complicate a company’s success, internally and externally.

Additionally, data silos can put leadership into question. Teams may wonder why their processes are the way they are and why management never listens to their firsthand suggestions for improvements. It encourages unnecessary time spent with trivial office politics and misunderstood interpersonal relationships when all could be solved with updated technology and reformed operational procedures.

When siloed mentalities run data silos, there’s also the question of who has access and why. Silos can make these lines murky because some cliques could feel protective over an app in the stack, preventing full access or usability of a resource that could be valuable. Who is changing or overseeing the data’s safety and currency? Incorporating change management can forge a visible line of communication between people accessing a silo, enabling them to share information while knowing who is involved.

How Can Companies Break Free of Working in Silos?

Process discovery and building information modeling (BIM) can reveal the shaky parts of any siloed organization. Interviewing teams to see what parts of their jobs they find tedious, cumbersome or labor-intensive could highlight where tech silos make jobs unnecessarily complex or intricate. 

Industries are making their operations less efficient and secure from a cybersecurity perspective because the information is spread out and inconsistently guarded. Would companywide cloud services make production more cohesive? If so, company leaders should focus on implementation and training to improve productivity.

Isolated perspectives of a company can cause misconstruing of essential company metrics or a loss of data integrity. Here is what companies can look at to quickly identify data silos in their work environments and begin digital transformation:

  • What channels must information go to before a project’s completion or plan’s approval?
  • How many apps and software do teams use, and can they be consolidated?
  • How long does it take for a repeated process to finish?
  • How do customer experiences reflect outcomes?

Additionally, people overseeing silos are also in the silo mentality. That means it’s time to adjust workplace culture and expectations to be more collaborative. Management teams can start this by leading by example. They can demonstrate how they would communicate with their customer relationship management software or when they would schedule a collaborative call to discuss the information from one team to another. Cross-team collaboration is essential for overcoming tangible and mental silos and normalizing data governance.

Have them nitpick their sources and question and bond over discovering ways to make their workplaces more fluid. They may uncover how to combine their knowledge into a centralized hub for all to enter. It could streamline everyone’s access to company information that can maximize the value of their tasks, minimizing redundancy and misalignment of priorities.

Getting Out of Siloed Work and Mentalities

Digging a company entrenched in a complex data silo structure with a siloed mentality takes effort. However, business leaders will quickly understand how making data and resources accessible and consolidated benefits team members and productivity. The time it takes to implement changes will certainly pay off.

Evaluating what is and isn’t necessary and changing technological and personal vacuums within a business can unlock production improvements and creative insights. Companies may have never acknowledged this without knowing about silos. Once the problems are identified, leaders can implement changes that break the bonds of working in silos.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Ellie Gabel

Ellie Gabel is a science writer specializing in astronomy and environmental science and is the Associate Editor of Revolutionized. Ellie's love of science stems from reading Richard Dawkins books and her favorite science magazines as a child, where she fell in love with the experiments included in each edition.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Articles

Share This Story

Join our newsletter!

More Like This