This post is adapted from, Communication in High Performance Organizations: Principles and Best Practices, a Kindle e-book. The book presents scenarios that exemplify common communication problems in organizations and offers proven solutions to those problems. The scenario in this post is about functional silos.
People working in organizations often say, “We live in silos and do not communicate very well across these boundaries.” This malady becomes exaggerated when the successful completion of the work depends on the outcome of a cross-functional project. Leaders of cross-functional projects are faced with complex communication and alignment issues beginning with departmental or functional goals that may compete with those of the project, with individual performance goals, with scarce resources, and with language differences. In the following case, Bill Smith and his leadership team are confronted with decreasing customer satisfaction from solutions that were regionally based and no longer meet the demands of growing global markets.
Bill Smith, VP of Sales at High Tech Inc, and his leadership team, had gathered feedback from customers and concluded that the sales department needed a major reorganization. Customers were complaining that they were no longer receiving the customized solutions they had come to expect from High Tech Inc.
Originally, the department had been regionally-focused, with U.S., China, and India sales offices providing services to all industries, types, and sizes in their specific regions. This strategy had been extremely effective during the past ten years as High Tech Inc was perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the rapid regional growth in the computer industry. However, new entrants into the market had increased competition making the old structure no longer effective.
Based on the customer feedback, Bill and his team determined that there was a clear need for change. They decided that the structure that would enable High Tech to compete most effectively was to change from five U.S. regionally-focused sales offices and two global offices (China and India) to one centralized office with salespeople dedicated to particular industries and sizes of companies. They also understood the magnitude of this change and potential impact it would have throughout High Tech. To make a change of this size, Bill and his team would need company-wide support.
What should Bill do to gain company-wide support and improve communication between regions? In what ways is this scenario similar to your organization?