If we don’t bust down the industrial-age silos in our organizations, their walls will inevitably crash down on us. Just ask the News department that had walls between print and the Web.
Three years ago Jon Husband called for an amalgamation of support functions in the networked workplace or eOD (e-OrganizationalDevelopment). Luis Suarez has suggested the merging of knowledge management and learning. Most recently Euan Semple calls for combining HR, Communications and IT. Euan says that HR are “maintainers of order, rather than enablers of staff”; that Communications manages rather than enables communication; while IT controls risk instead of enabling the business. These are generalizations, but expose the weaknesses of our current management system.
I’ve recommended before that a wide range of silos (HR, Training, Personnel, KM, OD, Communications, PR, Marketing, etc.) should be incorporated into one support function. Individuals could have a variety of roles, depending on organizational needs but all have to be focused on the organization. Separate departments create tribes and internal cultures that may be at cross-purposes with other departments or the overall organization. With hyper-linked information and access to expertise, not only are internal departments of less value, they could subvert the organization’s future by not responding quickly and appropriately.
I know that there’s more than one way to achieve better functioning organizations but tearing down the walls is a good place to start.