There are good silos and then there are bad silos. A good silo is like the kind you might find on a farm. It’s that big towery thing that holds feed and grain and whatnot. This type of silo is good because it allows Mr. Farmer to easily store a single type of grain without it getting mixed with other types of grain.
Then there’s the bad kind of silo. This type of silo is found in the workplace, but instead of keeping grain separate it keeps information separate.
A silo is unshared information between coworkers. No, not favorite colors, hopes and dreams, or hidden animosities, but the valuable information that pertains to work. Silos aren’t always intentional, or even apparent, but they are very often troublesome. A silo can lead to lower productivity, mistakes, redundancy, and can be downright frustrating.
Information silos come in many shapes and sizes, but no matter how seemingly insignificant a silo is, it can create some real problems.
Let’s say that there are three people working on a social media campaign for a client; we’ll call them Bill, Bob, and Ben. The client is really wanting to go all out with this campaign, so these three gentlemen devise a social media strategy that uses every social media platform under the sun, heavy posting, sharing, commenting, paid advertising — the works.
The trouble is, Bill, Bob, and Ben aren’t working together. They’re all doing their own things. Bill doesn’t have access to the web analytics, Bill is one of the client’s team but has never done social media marketing before, and Ben uses a special set of tools that neither Bob nor Bill can share.
Bob keeps doing things without telling Ben or Bill. Ben and Bill keep stepping on each others toes by duplicating posts. Things fall through the cracks that Bob thought Bill was supposed to do, but Bill thought Ben was doing them. Everyone has called the client asking the same questions, and the client is beginning to regret ever hiring any of them.
These guys need to break down those silos before it’s too late. Since information silos can happen naturally, the best way to prevent them is by having a clear strategy and method for your work.
Have clear roles. Everyone involved on a project should know exactly who is responsible for doing what. If there is ever any confusion, or if there are gray areas, it’s important to identify and address those as soon as possible.
Simplify. Even if everyone has clearly defined roles, weird convoluted systems are a surefire way to build up some silos. Bob shouldn’t be sending emails to Bill to tell Ben to let Bob know when Bill has finished his project. A simple system that is easy to follow is the best way to avoid information silos.
Communication is key. Communicating helps reduce the chance that information goes unshared, but communication alone isn’t enough. You have to be clear when communicating. Bill can’t send a text to Bob saying, “Hey, I did that thing for him”. Miscommunication can be just as bad as non-communication.
Never assume. You can’t just assume that someone knows what you’re talking about, or that someone will take it upon themselves to do something.
Stick to the plan. If you do something that varies from your social media strategy, let it be known. Social media isn’t something so structured that you can just draw out a formula and never stray. You have to keep up with news stories, current events, and trends that can’t be foreseen when mapping out your strategy. You can however account for these things when establishing that strategy. Know exactly what protocol is when deviating from the plan, and make sure everyone is on the same page.