Silos: a pain in the pipe!

Many’s the time that I and my fellow Commscrum co-conspirators have railed against organisational silos and praised the value of interdisciplinary approaches. Another case in point (as if I needed one) is my experience over this past week, trying to get the heating working in our new house.

A bone fide ‘project’ with its fair share of secrets buried beneath the layers of old decor, we’ve ripped out the old central heating system and started again (of course replacing the old boiler with a super-efficient modern one and, in due course, insulating the bejesus out of the place).

All the new pipework in and the new boiler ready to be commissioned, we discover there’s insufficient inlet pressure to the gas meter. Cue a call to the gas board who…

  1. Send in guy #1 to check the inlet pressure and confirm it’s not enough
  2. Send in guys #2 and 3 to dig a metre-long trench in our back garden and install some fatter pipe to the meter
  3. Send in guy #4 to check the pressure again (still not enough)
  4. Send in guys #2 and 3 again to extend the trench and install another 2 metres or so of fatter pipe
  5. Send in guy #5 to check the pressure a 3rd time (thankfully, this time, with the desired result)
  6. Send in guys #6 and 7 to fill in the hole dug by guys #2 and 3

Nice chaps all of them, and I have no doubt that all these silos make absolute sense to the organisation. Of course, as a customer, I don’t give a crap about anything but getting my heating working, and this separation of tasks just looks like complete idiocy.

Most importantly, it’s meant that it will have taken over a week to solve a problem that an interdisciplinary team could probably have cracked within a day. Not such a big deal for me, since I’m working up a sweat doing various bits of demolition and repair work, but a potentially *massive* one were this sort of problem to befall an elderly couple, for example.

Worth asking maybe: For whose benefit is *your* company organised? How might your internal systems and structures be compromising your people’s ability to deliver (and derive a sense of purpose and achievement from delivering) exceptional service to your customers?

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