Aug 13

Overcoming Silos and Focusing on Strategic Goals in Your Organization

Patrick Lencioni spoke on the topic his new book, Silos, Politics & Turf Wars, at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit yesterday. I haven’t read this book, but a friend highly recommended his earlier book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which is on my reading list as soon as I find an audio version.

Lencioni proposed that departments fail for one of two reasons: interpersonal issues and conflict (something Peg Neuhauser, author of Tribal Warfare, discussed at the conference yesterday), or structural issues that he calls silos. In other words, “that’s not my area.”

In a crisis organizations pull together and overcome silo mentality as the crisis provides a rallying cry so people don’t think about their own department. But why should an organization have to wait for a crisis to pull people together? To overcome this tendency in organizations, Lencioni recommends implementing a “thematic goal.” Such a goal should be:

  • A single goal
  • Qualitative – not quantitative
  • Temporary
  • Shared across the organization

Unlike the long-term, “Big Hairy, Audacious Goals” that Jim Collins recommends (author of Good to Great, who also spoke at the conference Friday), the thematic goal is short-term, perhaps five to 12 months. It fulfills the questions: “If we accomplish one thing during the next __ months, what should it be?”

Such a goal is then broken up into a handful of objectives, Lencioni explained in his workshop-oriented session. These goals are on top of the “standard operating objectives” that every organization must continue to achieve in order to survive, and which should also be listed out in the plan document.

One of the most interesting applications of the thematic goal concept was how it is kept alive by becoming a focus of the organization’s regular meetings. Instead of having each area report on their area, Lencioni recommends going through the objectives linked to the thematic goal and ranking their current status as green, yellow or red. Then the meeting proceeds to discuss the red items with everyone participating, even if the topic is not in their functional area. In fact, Lencioni says, the best ideas generally come from outside the area of specialty.

Lencioni’s approach is built on the axiom that “If everything is important, nothing is important,” something that is easy for a department or organization to forget. “We have to have the courage to do one thing,” he concluded.

Patrick Lencioni’s Web site is www.tablegroup.com

Technorati Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>