I come from the heartland of America where there are innumerable farm silos dotting the countryside. These silos are critical to sustaining the farms they serve, separating feed and other materials from the animals and climate around them.
But in business, silos are not productive, they are destructive. In this latest installment from my Umbrella Collection stories, I share insights taken from I See a Silo!—a business parable about spotting and eliminating business silos. Feel free to reach out if you have feedback or would like us to add any colleagues to our mailing list.

Business silos, whether intentional or not, take the focus off what matters most: customers, relationships, growth, sales, morale and passion. When silos have built up within a company, the focus turns inward. There’s little to no sharing of ideas, resources, goals or information. It’s “each department for themselves.” Customer service takes a back seat to a contentious mentality, turf wars and one-upmanship. This results in everything from lost sales to the complete collapse of an organization. A thriving business aligns goals across all departments and promotes a culture of collaboration to the benefit of its customers and employees.

Business silos keep out people, ideas and progress. When people within a company are at arm’s length, ideas aren’t shared and innovation is stifled. Collaboration and teamwork across departments are essential to generating new, inspiring ideas. Often, I’ve found that some of the best ideas are the result of seemingly disparate groups coming together and sharing their unique views to solve a challenge. It’s energizing to brainstorm with colleagues you usually don’t interact with day to day. It provides a fresh perspective to all.

Dealing emotionally with difficult issues is okay if you’re a part of the team, not apart from it. Business silos breed discontent and an “us versus them” mentality. When the silos are torn down, disagreements may still happen and emotions will run high at times, but it’s okay as long as people are part of a cohesive team. Sharing the same goals, they can work together to achieve them, even if it means disagreeing with each other to ultimately make the solution or product better.

In I See a Silo! the characters make it a game to spot a silo and call out, “I see a silo.” I invite you to read this parable and challenge your team to spot and tear down the silos in front of you.

Please Answer One Short Question

Can you spot silos within your company?


Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming book The Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.