Avoid the Silo Effect with Better Collaboration using Interactive Digital Technology

Last Updated on November 1, 2023

The Silo Effect can cost your organisation millions of dollars. Deploying integrated interactive digital workflows has transformed many organisations into efficient, high-performance systems.

Here is 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?

Gillian Tett’s influential book, The Silo Effect, is a good 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 did the Sony Walkman get overtaken by the Apple iPod? Silo thinking!

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. Doh! That’s silos.

And so today Sony probably isn’t the first company or product you think of when it comes to a portable music device. Yet once they owned it with the Walkman! 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. We all use our mobile phones in multifaceted ways.

The iPod was easy to use. In two steps, you could download data to your computer and copy it across to your portable device – and you have “1000 songs in your pocket” as Steve Jobs famously said.

Combine this with the persuasive ability of Jobs to convince the music industry to make each of their songs available for 99c via iTunes – and you have a completely integrated digital 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 systems and cultures that produce great outcomes.

Projects need tools and processes that facilitate collaboration and drive success.

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

Our interactive digital systems integrate multiple data sets to enable project scenarios to be viewed in their entirety, in real time. Silos are avoided and meaningful collaboration results when the digital technology is a wise mediating compelling voice in the room – not that noisy power broker.

On big projects with many moving parts, we create a system at the centre of the professions, the data, the objectives and the inputs.

The Interactive Digital System is used for the duration of the project – from early concept planning through to training and safety, asset maintenance and management. Clients save time and costs across the asset life-cycle, but – more importantly − they affect a step change in culture and behaviour which results in reduced project risk.