‘Silo’ is so common as an industry buzzword we mostly just take it for granted. The usual sense is ‘functional’ silo or ‘organizational silo’.
I recently heard ‘no man stands alone’ (‘alone’ = ‘silo-ed’) as a common-sense justification for Big-P process. (See http://goo.gl/Cuk3s) That logic is simply flawed. Here are other ways your business can be fundamentally ‘silo-ed’.
- You can stand alone (silo-ed) in your strategy – goals not aligned, tactics not aligned, policies not aligned.
- You can stand alone (silo-ed) in your timing – events, intervals and schedules not coordinated.
- You can stand alone (silo-ed) in your logistics – locations isolated, connections and transport linkages not optimized.
- You can stand alone (silo-ed) in your language – different vocabularies and meanings, producing semantic silos (a.k.a. a Tower of Babel).
And of course, you can stand alone (silo-ed) in your business rules.
Any one of these ‘silo-ings’ can be worse than ‘functional’ or ‘organizational’ ones. My bias, of course, is toward language (nothing gets done effectively in a Tower of Babel) and strategy (if you’re storming the beaches, you’d better hope the generals already got it together strategy-wise).
But that’s not the point. If an approach doesn’t evenly addresses all the ‘silo-ings’, it’s trouble. As we say in our new book (http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php) you need a well-factored approach. (And of course, John Zachman has been saying that for 25+ years.) The Big-P process view steers you in a harmfully simplistic direction … and probably right into the waiting arms of some eager consultancy or services provider.