Many organisations, whether by design, or simply through the passage of time are siloed. Departments, instead of functioning as part of a well oiled system, become cliques. Organisational silt builds up, blocking the flow of ideas, information and innovation.
IT mistrusts Finance, Finance thinks HR stands for “Human Remains” and HR thinks that IT spends all its money on stuff for Finance.
Humans are good at making cliques and building walls and borders for the strangest reasons. The walls rarely help though.
Looking back over the last year my blog is sprinkled with Cluetrain ramblings. I stumbled upon it soon after starting blogging, and it has slowly grown on me, better late than never. I really ought to buy a copy.
I suppose this blog has become my attempt to generate a little more conversation with customers and those that watch SAP. I’ve thought a lot about the Cluetrain and how it impacts selling, and surfing around, most blogs that reference the Cluetrain do so from customer perspective. Yet I seem to have neglected an important and blindingly obvious component.
It stands to reason that if you preach the Cluetrain externally, in the customer context, then it should have an employee counterpart? The more I think about the Cluetrain, the more I reckon it needs to start within an organisation. If you can build a culture of trust and collaboration with an organisation, then ideas and processes flow smoothly, making it possible to deliver on your promises. But surely the Cluetrain needs to work within the organisation too? If the internal functioning of an organisation are wracked with divisions and walls, then building a consistent conversation with the customer becomes impossible.
How does or should the Cluetrain impact how you hire, train, develop, communicate with and motivate people in your organisation? Re-reading it on the plane to London this morning, I was struck by this paragraph.
Consider this: from the other side of the gulf opened by the Web, virtually all of the structures that management identifies as being the business itself seem to be bizarre artifacts of earlier times, like wearing a powdered wig and codpiece to the company picnic.
I wonder how many HR leaders have read the Cluetrain, or even given serious thought to how the web impacts your organisation? This sentence really hit home.
Somewhere along the line, we confused going to work with building a fort
Does your organisational culture build walls or break them down? Does information flow easily across functional domains, or is it hoarded? Does everyone know and believe in the strategy? Does everyone take ownership for success?
Are you someone that breaks down silos?
Or do you help build them?
And when people work together even the most seemingly impregnable of silos can be made to crumble.
So next time IT, HR and Finance climb into their forts, or you see silos growing, suggest a trip to Berlin, stand on this line and ask them if the organisation would work better without the walls.
Hyperlinked organizations never met a wall they liked.
UPDATE: For more on Berlin in English, checkout the Berlin life site.