Silo Solutions Create Bigger Problems

by Jay Deragon on 02/05/2014

Just when we think we’ve found a solution the reality is we’ve just created a new problem. Many look at the web as a solution to singular problems and pursue the solution aggressively. Many then learn that not thinking through the systemic impact of “the internet of everything” they have created a bigger problem.

Looking at internet as a solution to silo issues without considering its impact on other “parts” of your organization reflects silo thinking. Silo thinking is clear everywhere. We see it from suppliers of internet technology designed to contain us and our conversations within their wrappers. Doing so may create value for the moment but problems in the long-term.

The model of containment reflects silo thinking. If we can get more users to our site then we can get more advertisers (Facebook, Twitter,  Google etc). More advertisers represents more revenue. More revenue, more users reflects higher evaluation. The problem then arises when users find alternatives and the results from advertising begin to diminish. Sound familiar? Look at the patterns for social networks and the advertisers that support them.

When The Silo Gets Disaggregated

The expression “silos of information” is typically applied to management systems where the focus is in and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers and organizations serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among internal and external resources difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical. Silos tend to limit productivity in practically all organizations and frustrate consumers who increasingly expect information to be ready to avail, transparent and complete.

Information silos are becoming far more recognized as the major reason organizations are unable to take full advantage of the Internet’s power to interconnect business processes. The vast number of incompatible database applications in use perpetuates the existence of silos, making it impossible for run-the-business software to take full advantage of the Internet. Consumers are feeling the waste and inefficiency of “social silo’s”. Every site they land on wants their profile, their opinion and their friends. Every brand, network and community wants to contain us, trap us and control us.  Everyone wants our content so they can use it within their silo of activity. Activity within one silo to another represents wasted productivity. Wasteful activity steals value from consumers. Stealing value because of silo mentality is an anti-social mentality.

Are The Silos Coming Down?

In the old world contained communications controlled by the few was the means for shaping a story and influencing an audience. Whether the message is aimed at the world, an institution, an organization or a local community media silos shaped not only the message but the meaning. While social technology may be viewed as a solution it is in fact creating problems because of the lack of wisdom.

Omair Haque writes: The scarcest, rarest, and most valuable resource in the world today is wisdom. The countries, companies, and people who have it will prosper. In many ways, wisdom is the opposite of strategy — and today, it is strategy, bought by the dozen from legions of besuited, back-slapping consultants, that is cheap, abundant, and worth little.

In a connected transparent world it isn’t wise to believe that capturing, controlling users will solve problems or increase transactions. Rather wisdom suggest doing the opposite is the new solution.  However wisdom would also suggest that one should consider the problems created from giving people freedom.

People and information set free from containers creates change unexpected. Unexpected change requires more wisdom. It cost capital to keep up silo’s. Today’s popular movement is crowdsourcing of problems.  However crowdsourcing has spawned over 695 crowdsourcing platforms in the U.S. along and more than 3,000 globally. These business models actual create solutions in a silo thus reducing the capacity of solutions to solve problems across all platforms.

The next iteration of the internet will be aimed at setting people, information, knowledge and wisdom free.

Wisdom will have to flourish to comprehend the value of freedom.

{ 1 comment }

Jeff Mowatt February 5, 2014 at 6:36 am

Breaking down silos was a matter we raised 6 years ago, when calling on US government to support Ukraine’s civic activists.. It was copied to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations where at the tim, Joe Biden was chair.

“Thank you for your time and attention to this. I and others will look forward to hearing from you. I hope we continue to realize ever more fully that outside the box and inside the box have only a box in the way. We outside the box know quite a bit of what’s going on, many times in exquisite detail, perhaps in ways that those inside the box can’t quite as easily access if at all. We are grossly underfunded in favor of missiles, bombs, and ordnance, which is about 100% backwards. Now, with even the US Pentagon stating that they’ve learned their lesson in Iraq and realize (so says top US general in Iraq ten days or so ago) that winning hearts and minds is the best option, I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand? ”

Looking at Ukraine today, you might say that we have a silo problem.

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