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Breaking down the silos

How you look, is what you see.

This is one of the most important insights from the book “Images of Organization” in which Morgan identified nine organizational perspectives, described as metaphors.

The simplest definition of an organization is a group of people who work together in an organized way for a shared purpose. Most of us act in an organization and as such we are part of an organizational culture which will drive our behaviour. The interesting part about this is that if we would measure the organization we are therefore also measuring ourselves as we are part of it. Does that mean that your organization represents who you are?

Yes it does. But if so, people in organizations being related, how can working together be so difficult? People are no machines, neither do they have access to all information to understand their environment or who they are. These limitations create silos and structures of us versus them. These silos discourage people from thinking for themselves, silos protect themselves against different viewpoints. They are less likely to share resources or ideas with other groups or welcome suggestions as to how they might improve.

Breaking down the silos

Breaking down the silos requires the ability to be open and willingness to understand different viewpoints in order to be capable to solve issues and problems in these organizational supply chains in which we all operate on a daily basis.

It requires the ability to adapt and learn. We never confront or discuss our assumptions about others which make them extremely difficult to change. To change we have to relearn things about reality which is difficult because asking questions about our own assumptions destabilises our mental and interpersonal worlds which causes anxiety. To avoid anxiety silos want to see that things fit their existing assumptions to the point that they will disort or deny what is really happening around them.

A country may therefore be democatic, but its organizations are not. This brings me to the first speech from Barrack Obama since stepping down as president. Obama reflected on what he said in 2004 that there were no red states or blue states, there were the United States of America, that was an aspirational comment. Obama remained serious, pressing on: “And it’s one, by the way, that I still believe in the sense that when you talk to individuals one on one, there’s a lot more that people have in common than divides them.”

You are the cause

Obviously it’s not true when we keep being imprisoned in our silos. We are all able to fix this problem and use our abilities to see from several perspectives and suspend our judgement. Not forget, what you look for, is what you see or in other words, you are the cause, everything around is the effect. Lets work together to knock down those organization, civic and political silos which divide us and get to accelerate to unity of our collective minds. If that happens I think we are going to be just fine.

People who have a low perception only see organizations as one of the metaphors described by Morgan in his book, but people who are open have greater perception and suspend judgement, are able to recognise several perspectives, which allows them to have several rather than only a single view for dealing with organizations and their problems.

“Listen to understand rather than listen to respond,” Obama told the crowd, noting it was actually a lesson he learned in marriage. “That will save you a lot of heartache and grief.”

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