Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association


April 01 2013

Why Silos are Innovation Killers

By Mary Reynolds Kane, Senior Director, Experience Marketing

Today’s virtual work environments, doing more with less, and impossible to-do lists are making something that might have already been a challenge, an out-right nightmare.  Working on your piece of the puzzle without paying attention to the overall organization (or project) goals and strategy is wasting countless hours of work and resulting in employee dissatisfaction.

Think about your organization’s structure and how many times a day you feel like you are putting out fires or back-tracking with different groups to get everyone back on the same page because someone stopped talking and sharing what they were doing. Now, subtract that from your average work-week. Did you just gain back all of that time you spent at dark thirty in the morning or at night, away from your friends, your pets, your family? Have you pin-pointed the source for your high blood pressure and aggravation?

Instead of losing your temper (or your mind), let’s remind ourselves of the simple steps we learned as toddlers:

  1. Not everything is “mine.”  Just because your team got a shiny new IPad, doesn’t mean you should lock it in your desk drawer.  Sharing is very important and will create a happier environment where people will actually want to keep “playing” nicely together.
  2. Say “Please” and “Thank you.” It’s a foundational skill we’re taught in Kindergarten. When requesting information – be nice. When someone sends or tells you something, acknowledge that you have received it and say “thank you.” And be sure to give them credit. No one wants to work with someone that conveniently “forgets” to mention that your idea was the one that revolutionized the project, conference or event.
  3. Remember the Golden Rule. When you throw sand in the sandbox, expect it to be thrown back at you. People would rather collaborate with someone who is not immediately negative or those that stoop to whining and/or berating. It’s weird and uncomfortable. Treat people with respect and you might be surprised by how much more smoothly people work together.
  4. Admit your faults/Telling is not okay. Stop running around and placing blame – you probably had a hand in it and if you didn’t, this just wastes time. Work on a solution with your collaborators to move the project forward.
  5. “Because I want to” is not a reason.  Okay, maybe when you're three it is. Projects and organizations have processes for a reason – follow them. Someone in your organization is an expert and was hired because of that – trust them. Bring them your idea and work with them on how it could be best executed rather than just trying to implement something without everyone’s buy in and brainpower.
  6. Be open to new ideas. Change is scary, but inflexibility is worse. Brussel sprouts might have been revolting at age 3, but as an adult you could be missing out on Bobby Flay’s roasted sprouts with caramelized onions and bacon. When someone brings you an idea (no matter how busy you are) listen and learn. Sometimes it takes a brand new perspective on something to start the momentum for a real show-stopping idea.
  7. You can’t always get what you want, when you want it. It’s easy to tell a child they can’t eat their entire Easter basket in one sitting, but what about when your project team takes on too much at once? Stop thinking that everything is the number one priority. Determine what your resources can effectively manage and then prioritize.  
  8. Take a break. Remember how you couldn’t wait to go back to school after summer break and see all your friends …A vacation helps you focus on what matters in life and fighting over that room set or creative copy will (incredibly) lower in importance when you return to the office.  Break out of the cycle and enjoy your life.
  9. Let it go/Stop the tantrum. Yes, crying and pouting for 30 minutes felt right when you were three. Now holding on to frustrations or old injuries just makes it hard to move forward. You may not have to forgive, but sometimes you have to let it go in order to work with someone who will never be your BFF. 
  10. Have fun. We have forgotten how to do this. Relax, unwind and enjoy with your collaborators. Sometimes breaking away from the office can remind you of how much fun the people you work with are.

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