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How prevalent are communication silos in your organization?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How prevalent are communication silos in your organization?

  • They’re everywhere. Everyone operates in a silo: 56.7%
  • We have a few big silos but not an excessive number: 26.7%
  • We don’t have many silos: 10.7%
  • We don’t have silos and communicate very well: 2.3%
  • I’m a farmer. I’m supposed to have silos: 3.6%

Let’s break down the walls. Operating in silos is clearly a pandemic sweeping across the organizational landscape. A full 57% of you state that they’re everywhere. Typically a desire to exert control over one’s area or an unwillingness to put in the effort to communicate with other groups is the root cause of these silo issues. The problem is more and more of us operate in a matrixed environment. The key to breaking down the silos is demanding people take a broader view of their work and involve stakeholders more proactively. Unless you hold your team to that standard of communication, they’ll continue plugging away in their individual silos, oblivious to the impact of their work on the rest of the organization.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”