What Is an Information Silo?

According to CMS Wire, workers, on average, spend 36% of their day looking for and consolidating information. But 44% of the time, they can't find the information. This wasted time and effort are caused by information silos. 

Information silos are costly, but they are also fixable. Although they’re often thought of as unavoidable, the truth is solving them can lead to more productivity, improved work culture, and better use of resources. Keep reading to learn more about information silos and why people such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk chose to ban them from their companies. 

What is an information silo?

Silo is a management term that has been around for many years. It is often used to describe a lack of organizational cohesion. This issue has become a recurring theme in most organizations. 

Many executives may dismiss their department's shortcomings as mere department inefficiencies. They may also dismiss the importance of cross-functional solutions and the need for employee training. This perspective is often referred to as a silo mentality. 

A silo mentality is a mindset that prevents certain departments or sectors from sharing information with their peers. It can lead to decreased efficiency and employee morale.

The silo mindset does not appear to be an accident. It is, however, a reflection of the complex dynamics within an organization. One common misconception is that the silo mentality is the root cause of these behaviors. In reality, it is the result of assumptions that are based on flawed logic and correctable issues that are often wrongly perceived as irreversible. 

It’s the leadership team’s job to step up and create long-term solutions that are sustainable and can be easily implemented. 

What are the problems associated with information silos?

A silo mentality occurs when department or team communication is lacking, and there are no common tasks. In this scenario, the team derives its power and status from its group. They are less likely to collaborate with other teams or departments if their efforts are not shared.

It is the owner's responsibility to create a culture that discourages silos within their business. They set a tone and values for their organization and approve employees seeking to maintain a silo mentality. If they do not, they run the risk of: 

  • Limiting collaboration
    When employees aren’t clued in on bigger picture ideas and information, they often operate in a bubble. This individualism leads to issues connecting with goals. It also limits an employee’s ability to see beyond their own role and how it affects others. 
  • Decreasing communication
    Information silos hold back important facts, data, and decisions from key employees. Not only does this make projects more confusing, but it can also dissuade employees from sharing valuable feedback. 
  • Creating hostility
    Miscommunications and lack of collaboration can lead to interpersonal conflict among colleagues. When someone feels left out or makes a mistake because they lack information they believe they should have access to, it breeds a culture of contempt. This is yet another reason why communication management skills matter among leadership. 
  • Inhibiting creativity 
    Information is empowering. It can inform decision-making, but it can also spark creativity. Without the right information, teams may feel as if they can’t think outside the box or risk making choices without the right facts in front of them. 
  • Derailing progress
    It is not uncommon to need a large amount of ramp up to keep the momentum going. When teams waste time looking for missing information, waiting on access approval, and flipping through virtual files, their inertia is taken away. 
  • Lost data
    Knowledge is power. It is the key factor that enables a team to thrive and be productive. When important data is lost, teams lose that power and consequently the ability to perform at a high level. 

Examples of information silos

  • Missing, out of date, or messy data in a CRM 
  • A broken integration between one or more tools
  • Forgetting to loop key decision-makers into important email conversations
  • Using too many tools at once, so information is spread out and hard to look for
  • Slower quote-to-cash workflows as a result of process complexity

How to break down information silos with Wrike

A strong leadership team is built on the understanding of the company’s long-term goals and key initiatives. It must also have the ability to communicate effectively with teams and motivate them to reach their full potential.

Once the leadership team has agreed on a unified vision, it is important that they identify the root issues that may be causing silos to form. This team then needs to work with the other members of the organization to develop a strategy and implement it. That’s where Wrike comes in. 

Wrike is a project management tool that simplifies the process of communicating and organizing important information. Here’s how: 

  • Create structure
    The structure of a business can foster a silo mentality if employees do not get along with one another. Wrike uses visual tools for project communication such as color-coding, task owner photos next to assignments, and Gantt charts that lay out the entire project grid for maximum visibility. 
  • Maximize collaboration
    To maximize collaboration, management should establish a culture where meetings are regularly scheduled — yet project planning is designed to reduce unnecessary meetings. Wrike solves these issues with a fully transparent project planning dashboard that is personalized for individual users and creates a single source of truth for the entire organization. 
  • Measure progress
    Once a common goal has been established, it is important that it is measured accurately. Leaders must also establish a timeframe to complete it. This goal should also be communicated to all employees. Wrike shows progress across all tasks simultaneously so team members can see where they stack up. It also shows them how their work factors into big-picture goals. 
  • Establish workflows 
    The owner or manager sets the rules and routines that define the organization's structure. This process helps preserve the culture while ensuring that the rules are followed. Wrike allows managers to create repeatable workflows that make rules and routines easy to follow for project phases and tasks. 

Takeaway

A business owner must develop strategies that help employees understand what they’re working to achieve. They also need to establish an environment where employees can collaborate and communicate. Wrike helps support these initiatives and more through advanced features that foster productivity and keep everyone on the same page at all times. Start your free trial today. 

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