The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Break down Silos

Remove barriers for effectiveness

A high percentage of organisations develop a military rationale, whereby only a very small number of people make all of the decisions. There is little wonder, then, that people aren’t keen to get out of bed and come to work on a Monday morning. – Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell

Walls in the office are one of the most dogged hangovers of management that silently reinforce workplace inequalities.They are invisible silos that separate people into those who make decisions and those who execute those decisions. While it seems innocuous, think of how many people dream of the corner office with the view, getting away from the “masses” in the main floor.

Even cubicle walls make it easy for people to spend years communicating with each other only through emails, even if they work in the same building. Companies now are moving towards open, common spaces like cafeterias or informal spaces around the office, like lounges, which serve to lower walls and reduce power distances. More radical companies do away with walls completely. This creates more social interactions that catalyze breaking down silos.

This transformation, however, begins within the leadership. In theory, it might sound like a simple practice to implement. But, in reality, this is one of the toughest transformations to achieve because there’s bound to be a lot of psychological resistance at all levels. Mid and top-level management could see this as a status drop while employees may feel that they cannot freely engage with each other.

What is important here is the concept of removing “silos”. An open office may not necessarily be the best solution to implement this in your company. There might be situations when focus or confidentiality is required and it is unwise to discuss everything at every level. The last thing the company needs is to demand walls be brought down for the sake of being brought down, ironically reinforcing the very attitude they are trying to tear down.


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