In my exploration of leadership and well being I have tripped over several management terms and speaks along the way which to you and me mean very little. Yet their blue sky thinking does at times adequately describe a situation that many coal face workers find themselves in at the moment. Throughout this series of leadership and well being the term “silo thinking” persistently and naggingly kept cropping up. I hadn’t a clue what this meant other than it was another word for “Bunker.” After researching the matter it turns out that “Bunker” was entirely an appropriate term to describe what I am about to elude on.
So that was it. Departments not talking to each other, indeed going out of their way not to. In the police organisation the coal face worker is at the sharp end of the javelin. Behind the point, there are numerous departments and on top of that a management structure. There are several clandestine departments behind the point that must remain so in order to effectively carry out their work. At some point, forgive the pun, their work culminates in the coal face worker acting on the months of their hard work in bringing about an arrest and ultimately a conviction. Operationally they cannot share what they do and therefore very perfectly sit within the ‘silo thinking.” Now this thinking goes even further.
So in this silo system thinking business where each department shares little to the other, protecting their own interest by doing so and in all likelihood be less than willing to throw a life line to a struggling department if it meant their own unit growing larger I ask this question. Are silo’s departments or individuals?
Undoubtably both and certainly individually because individuals make up departments. I don’t know what happens at the top but I can guess. I don’t know what happens within the management teams in the divisions but I can guess. Indeed I don’t know what happens within my own divisional management team but I can guess.
The reason I can guess is because I see ‘Silo system thinking” on a day to day basis. Not only within my own response team but that of other teams. Not only have teams become insular together with their supervision but also between individual officers. Silo’s within Silo’s, have become Russian dolls?
Is this a product of the police service, a product of insecurity due to the ongoing public sector cuts where we automatically draw our borders close to us or simply a product of the human condition?
So what is the antidote to “Silo thinking?” The answer is Synergy. The RAF pay a lot of attention to synergy. Where the pilot and navigator work together producing more than their sum. The sum total of 2 + 2 = 5. Whether you are a senior manager or a coal face worker, ask yourself honestly; Are you in synergy with your colleague today?