Silos topple companies

By Dan McGinn via http://blogs.hbr.org   Article

Build a ‘Quick and Nimble’ Culture

Why did you focus on culture?

Culture is such an amorphous concept — if you and I stood at a whiteboard and tried to list elements of our companies’ cultures, we could come up with 100 things and they might all be true. A lot of managers just let culture happen — it becomes the sum of the personalities, good and bad, that work in an organization. While writing this book, I became convinced that culture really does drive everything. Managers do focus on results, but I think culture drives results. That’s the important equation.

What’s the biggest problem you see in how companies build culture?

It’s the creation of silos. As one CEO put it to me, ‘Silos are what topple great companies.’ As human beings, we like to operate in small tribes. If there’s not someone creating and communicating an overarching, simple plan for the larger organization and getting everyone to pitch in, people start breaking down into small tribes and pursuing their own goals and agendas. That’s when you see a culture focusing inward, instead of outward on competition. That’s the fundamental problem that prompted Microsoft to announce its big restructuring last summer — it recognized it had too many separate divisions.”

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