How To Eliminate Silos And Create Alignment

Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 2 February 2016

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In our line of business, we see companies that have grown through either acquisitions and/or organic growth that reach a point where the company has become siloed and does not operate as one cohesive unit. The problem with this type of structure is that employees focus so heavily on their own department’s goals that they lose sight of the overall company vision. Additionally, it prevents the company’s fragmented divisions from enabling a smooth and cohesive relationship with partners and end consumers.

The simple answer to discourage this siloed mentality is to create a cultural transformation and align the employees’ minds, hearts and behavior to support this new brand positioning. It starts with rethinking the business and taking some concrete steps.  Here is what we typically prescribe:

  • First, leadership has to build a business case for the change and explain why it is important for the longevity and image of the company, and why it is important to every single person working at the company whether they are customer facing or not. They need to tell them what is expected of them and show how their work will be different from the past. It can’t be left for employees to figure it out on their own.
  • The business case should be supported by factual data and projections that are easy and simple to understand. It should explain the new behaviors and realities necessary to make the goal a reality
  • Transform the work so that the company provides the full resources of the company rather than one individual division or silo. That means realigning the sales function and planning to create cross-functional sales teams that offer solution selling rather than product or services alone.
  • Reassess how they measure performance and align new appraisal systems that measure team performance rather individual performance. This may require new organizational designs that align people, process and strategy
  • There must be allocated resources to implement a program that changes in regard to training, organization development, and transformational change. Set goals, create teams and programming to ensure success.
  • Allocate budget to do the job. All too often clients set lofty goals, but hope to make it happen with subterranean budgets. Just because you say it will be so, does not make it happen. Just as you spend millions on external ad campaigns, the internal branding should receive sufficient funding to persuade employees to become engaged around the positioning as well. If you must, seek funds elsewhere within the company. Don't let cost prevent you from doing this important work.
  • Make the alignment argument simple and easy, hold people accountable at all levels and use peer to peer pressure and social media to celebrate success, share ideas and recognize the staff that are doing it right

MassMutual is a good example of an organization whose growth forced them to rethink their vision and internal alignment. Their leadership was tasked with improving innovation while taming bureaucracy and fostering entrepreneurialism. They realized that to do this, they would need to undertake a large scale cultural transformation to remove internal barriers and encourage a new customer model. You can read more about this interesting case at, under “the aligned organization”.

If you would like to discuss how your company can achieve brand alignment, give us a call.