Recently, 'silo virus' has become a frequent topic of discussion among different kinds of organizations(Schutz & Bloch, 2006, p. 32). It generally means a lack of effective collaboration between different departments or subunits in an organization. This article will examine how silo virus forms and what implications silo thinking has for an organization. In addition, this article will specifically concentrate on the approaches that managers need to have to reduce the negative impact of silo thinking on an organization.
'Silo virus' describes the shortage of communication and common views across units that currently exist in the business or organizational communities(Schutz & Bloch, 2006, p. 32). Its name stems from the farm storage silo(Hotăran, 2009). If two people are inside of two silos that are right next to one another, they are unable to communicate as the silos are tall and airtight(Hotăran, 2009). The virus is also called silo thinking, as it is intangible and not really physically exist in organizations but actually present in the mind of staffs(Diamond, Allcorn & Stein, 2004). People infected by this virus are named silos. Silos usually feel safe and comfortable by keeping the colleagues of other departments out, particularly those who are not similar with them. However, in the inner of their group, they facilitate a narrow group-mentality, which results in a notion that anything in here is right, and anything out there is wrong(Cilliers & Greyvenstein, 2012). This is also the reason why silos always show hostility to those who hold opposite opinions.
The reasons of the formation of silo thinking are various including the development of technology, globalization, unsuitable management structure, competitive corporate culture, unclear procedure, and insufficient communication skills. The growing technological complexity could be the main cause of the shape of silo thinking. In an organization, employees are usually distributed to units based on different functions such as designing, manufacturing, marketing and accounting(Paulson, 2010). However, the design of organizational structure now is evolving from division simply according to functions to technological-based and informational distribution forms. Consequently, organizations will be broken down in more various and smaller departments to do more specific works, which dramatically increase the complexity of organizational structure(Schein, 1993). The employees of such increasing subunits will more likely to develop their own common languages and mental models. This creates many communicational barriers across these subunits of an organization.
Another reason of the formation of silo thinking is globalization. Because of the growing process of globalization, more and more large corporations start to expand the foreign markets and establish lots of their branches throughout the world. Whereas, these branches in different geographic locations would generate their own subcultures and less connect with each other, which could cause big business loss and hamper the development of the whole company(Binnur, 2007).
In addition, vertical management is also one of the sources of silo thinking. Although the flat hierarchy is promoting among the organizational communities, so many organizations could still adopt the vertical process to make decisions. Therefore, employees especially who are at ground level in a corporation would rarely have a chance to connect with managers(Paulson, 2010). Such vertical structure could also establish many filters in different hierarchical positions, which contributes to information delays in company's decision-making process(Hotăran, 2009). As a result, the top people at a company can not have adequate information about company's situation and problems instantly. This could lead to decision-making errors.
Moreover, senior management at a company could be easy to form their own community and subcultures,...
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