This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Silos and Overlap, Boxes and Arrows -- As the firm that pays me continues to grow (we're getting close to tripling in staff since I joined almost 2 1/2 years ago), we've been going through some predictable growing pains. Nothing that's threatening performance or quality in a serious way, or our status as one of the best places to work, but as an organization goes from 20-some to 70-some people, working relationships and structures necessarily change, including some formalization of processes and procedures so that "the way we do stuff" and useful knowledge can be transferred from "old timers" to new hires efficiently.
Some around here have bemoaned a growing sense of "silos" between groups, but I haven't been completely comfortable with that description, having seen some real serious silos at their worst in my previous Fortune 100 experience. However, a description of "team silos" by David Armano (that's two from him recently - his Logic+Emotion is a keeper - great graphics too, one of which I've absconded with for this post) is a bit closer to what I think can commonly happen.
Reminds me of an old post about avoiding the use of project managers as conduits (Border guards? Customs officials? Neutral Peacekeepers?) for information between team members.
As an organization sets out to improve and formalize processes for communication and handoffs to improve quality and speed of project execution, it has to be careful to continue working as true teams, allowing the overlap to inform and improve results. It can be an overlap in skills as suggested by Armano, but it can also go beyond that to a procedural overlap, as handoffs from one team member to another end up having overlapping responsibility, with both hands making sure that one knows what the other needs or, conversely, has done and that they both agree it's a successful handoff.
Projects are often documented in the form of boxes (tasks) and arrows (handoffs or deliverables). Responsibility for the boxes is usually pretty clear. Responsibility for the arrows has to be shared between the box owners.