Organisations work in silos and we often talk about breaking silos because it is a real problem. What is interesting is how silos form naturally and what keeps them functioning and feeds the way human behaves. The truth is that majority of people connect well only with a handful of people around them. It’s all they need to survive and even thrive. Organisations are set up for people to do their best work each day rather than over a long time horizon, and rightly so. Silos are natural tendency and efforts to resist them will be inefficient in short term.
The real solution to breaking silos is having superconnectors, being able to identify them in organisations and bring them into roles that allows them to help arbitrate across silos. They ought to be put in charge of coordination problems and given the authority to enable those connections. These people could also take the form of external consultants who have no stakes within the organisation.
Mathematically, clustering is just a natural population, psychological phenomena amongst people. Yet with just a handful of “super nodes” that connects across clusters, the other nodes within clusters can be quickly brought together and average degrees of separation reduced dramatically and really quickly.
Organisations need to recognise the role of these superconnectors that enable silos to continue working alongside in ways that are productive and non-duplicative. They allow everyone to remain efficient even as they ensure that the organisation overall operates strategically in the right direction.