Bank Silos

Bank Silos

Are Your Departments Communicating with Eachother?

Banks tend to develop into a silo mentality. Each team mixed together in its distinct discipline. Building team effort is very important in most any environment because within a group there are people whose skills are quite different. When we build a team, we have varied skills represented. The mix of skill produces greater output than one person’s skills alone. The downside of building teams is that a company then can become very compartmentalized. Each group doing their own thing, developing their own culture, focused on what matters most to them with limited interaction with other groups.

In his article Serendipitous Innovation, Kenneth Cline talks with Frans Johansson about the silo tendency in banks and other corporations. Historically, banking has been a very siloed industry. How can you get people in their discreet disciplines to interact with people in the other silos?

Johansson: Well, the fact is that people in a lot of industries work in silos, it’s not just bankers. Silos actually result, in part, from success. By that, I mean that every company that is successful tends to try to replicate their success. And in order to do that, you need to scale, which leads to separate business units housing distinct skills. That’s not just in banks, but in virtually every single company I’ve seen.

That creates tension within the company because people intuitively know that they would benefit by connecting with people from other parts of the organization, yet they also know that to be successful in their area, they supposedly can’t take their eyes off the ball even for a second. What they don’t realize is that people take their eyes off the ball all the time in ways they don’t reflect upon. For example, when they go home to their families, they’re not focusing on work anymore. Or, during a meeting you get bored and play Angry Birds on your smartphone. Those are all moments when you have opportunities to explore something else.

What are you doing with those opportunities? You need to find ways to connect with people outside your discipline and make those connections meaningful, and it doesn’t have to be for days. It can be ten minutes, it can be fifteen minutes and that’s all.

I think Johansson made some very good points. I suggest you shake up the silo mentality and think through ways you can encourage intermingling among your different banking groups. Perhaps you have a quarterly breakfast with several departments. You will most likely need to build in an interaction exercise or each team will huddle, as usual, with their own team. I can consult with you on ways to get intermingling started and maintained.

Give me a call or attend one of our upcoming workshops that address issues specific to your teams.

Still learning,