The Smith Report - A Blog That Solves Business Problems

The Dangers of Silo Thinking

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  1. The finance team produce accurate financial numbers but fail to report declines in operational ratios, units, and margins, robbing marketing & sales departments of powerful insights.
  2. Product launches are impeccably on schedule from a production schedule but the sales team remain untrained at launch date.
  3. Interview tricks (LinkedIn, Wonderlic test, interview style, color test) that worked when hiring the new developers were never shared with other departments diluting the power of your recruitment drives.
  4. Customer service calls reveal an excellent new system opportunity but it’s never shared with the Sales Director.
  5. Marketing collateral never explains the real outcomes you achieve for happy customers thus relegating sales teams to mumbling about features and benefits.
  6. Sales teams uncover real issues on the ground at their customer’s site that is not being addressed but fail to share this with the New Product Dev Team.
  7. Divisions of your group don’t understand the products and services of other divisions and so cross selling opportunities are never recognized (This is far more difficult than it looks).
  8. Shop floor manufacturing workers observe short cuts every day in your processes but are never encouraged to speak up.
  9. Recruitment needs across the organization are not explained in a consistent maner. So talent within your circle of family and friends are never alerted to opportunities (note research suggests 9 in 10 candidates suitable for a position are not looking).
  10. Content throughout the web site is owned by marketing but never edited by employees at the coal face. So real language used by real customers never reaches the dizzy heights of the home page.
  11. Mobile is becoming key to all customer engagement. A mobile strategy driven by the CMO without the involvement of the CIO will fail.
  12. Major projects are rarely staffed by multi-departmental members. So trust, credibility, skill and respect are never built across the organization only up and down.
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About the Author

Ian founded The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) in 2009. TPP is an operational consultancy focused on scaling private businesses organically and by acquisition. He believes his resume of building 4 previous businesses from publishing, investment banking to software in Europe and the States gives him a unique set of skills and a sense of humor. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and was ranked #4 indoors in the world for his age at 400m in the recent 2015 indoor season.


  1. Paul Cronin  March 25, 2013

    Ian, another great post. Silos should be banned (ok, not really), but you are so right. At Successful Transition Planning Institute, we see how the CPA, the lawyer, the business consultant, and the M&A Adviser all working hard, but not sharing knowledge and advice. Therefore, the poor business owner who hired them to help him figure out how to sell or transfer his business is often confused, angry and fearful It’s no wonder that an estimated 75% of potential M&A transactions fail. Most owners need someone “to corral the cats”. In a business, it should be the CEO. For a business transition, it’s a most trusted adviser or what we call the “Chief Transition Officer”.

    • Ian Smith  March 25, 2013

      Nicely said Paul. To build businesses, complete projects needs collaboration across teams and departments. But it needs leadership to embrace this approach.


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