25 May 2017, Urban Circus

Avoid the ‘Silo Effect’ and Create Collaborative Teams

Gillian Tett’s influential book, The Silo Effect, is a stunning read on how silos can lead to toxic cultural and organisational behaviour.

The key question Tett explores is, ‘What tools can we use to create integration and reduce divisional, separatist, individualistic and even competitive thinking within teams and organisations?’

She provides an intriguing scenario of the evolution of digital music and how Sony, once leaders in their field, succumbed to the silo mentality which saw them overtaken by Apple.

How? Well, they launched two ‘digital walkmans’ at the same launch event. Which meant they had two teams competing internally and twice the resources developing these technologies – silos.

And so today Sony probably isn’t the first company or product you think of when it comes to the portable music device. In comparison, Apple focused its whole company on a single device, and the iPod won out – but why?

Well it wasn’t just any device, it’s an integrated universe of Apple-ism that made it work and continues to this day as we use our mobile phones in multifaceted ways. And it’s easy to use. In two steps, you can download data to your computer and copy it across to your portable device – and you have a “1000 songs in your pocket”.

Combine this with the persuasive ability of Steve Jobs to convince the music industry to make each of their songs available for 99c via iTunes – and you have a complete integrated workflow.

So how do we master collaboration and unified thinking?

Tett believes the lesson here is breaking down the silos to foster better focus and unification. She suggests we focus on the behaviour and culture of our people if we want to win – and in our world, winning is creating great projects with great outcomes.

Projects need tools and processes that facilitate collaboration and drive success. On spatial infrastructure projects we have civil designers, footings specialists, geo-morphologists, architectural detailers, bridge deck structural specialists and many more.

Steve Jobs believed in the importance of deep collaboration and concurrent engineering, i.e. working together with a shared understanding.

Our digital 3D City Models integrate multiple data sets to enable a proposed project to be viewed in its entirety, in real-time. Silos are avoided and meaningful collaboration results when the model is the loudest voice in the room.

A 3D City Model can be used for the duration of your project – from early concept through to maintenance and management. You’ll save time and costs across the life of your asset, but – more importantly − you’ll affect a step change in culture and behaviour which results in reduced project risk.

To find out more about the effectiveness of 3D City Models, contact us today.

You can read extracts of Tett’s work in the Financial Review and Financial Times.


Author: Dr Ben Guy

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