The Crave

Weekly tips and stories that will help you do your job and make you smile (or groan).

By Sim Samra April 14, 2022

Breaking down silos and building up squads

Last week, a Journalist friend of mine told me this funny story. A guy walked into the newspaper publishing house where he worked to pitch a potential story to one of their journalists. (Disclaimer — the following lines were written while I was listening to Craig David's hit song 7 Days in the background). 🍔 On Monday, Journalist #1 took him out to lunch. 🍣 On Tuesday, Journalist #2 took him out for lunch again. 🍽️ On Wednesday and Thursday nothing noteworthy happened. 🍣 But by Friday, Journalist #3 took this guy out to lunch again, who was surprised when he was told: "You must be keen to print my story after three lunches with your company. What a great week this has been for me!" None of the Journalists knew that they were going after the same story. And, of course, the guy felt no need to fess up until he was at his third lunch of the week. Think about how much time and money the journalists could've saved if they had just communicated with each other about this potential news story. It seems simple. Why wouldn't they talk to each other? Why didn't anyone realize this was happening? The short answer is that they lack visibility at scale like so many organizations. This can lead to working in silos, which means operating in a bubble — on your own or as part of an insular team or department. If there had been a clear planning process in place for taking on news stories, the likelihood of at least one of them mentioning it would have been greater. And the two unnecessary lunch dates could've been avoided altogether.

I'm not here to completely trash-talk working in silos. I've been guilty of doing it myself in the past. One could argue that it enables teams and individuals to focus more internally. But in the long term, it's not sustainable.

Silos aren't all that bad, are they?

I'm not here to completely trash-talk working in silos. I've been guilty of doing it myself in the past. One could argue that it enables teams and individuals to focus more internally. But in the long term, it's not sustainable. You end up creating an environment where outside input and collaboration are discouraged. And when it comes to your marketing campaigns, you should get as much input as you can from your peers. For instance, if diversity, equity, and inclusion are important for your company, get input on whether representation is present in your campaigns. If design consistency is important to your company, get input on whether brand guidelines are being met, and so forth. When everybody is just doing their own thing, they're mainly concerned about self-preservation. That means that they only look to grow their silo, not the company as a whole. In other words, a silos approach won't help your company realize its content marketing goals. Strengthening transparency, encouraging open communication, and creating more pathways for collaboration can help your team break down silos if they've already formed.

Strengthen transparency

Silos typically form when teams don't know what each is working on, so our Marketing team decided to resolve that by taking over an All Hands company meeting last quarter. We used the time to introduce ourselves to the company, explain our responsibilities, showcase upcoming projects, run a quiz to educate and entertain our audience, and take questions. After the 30 minutes session, we had a flood of comments and praise from our peers who concluded that the Marketing team was no longer a mystery to them.

Encourage open communication

Our marketing team assembles every morning at 10am for a quick 10-15 min check-in. We talk about everything from how our projects are going, who's bingeing what on Netflix, how to take care of our pets and plants better, our work highlights of the week, etc. It's also a safe space for people to say how they're feeling and whether they need any help or support from the team. Having team check-ins helps to build up trust, communication, and confidence in peers.

Create more pathways for communication

As we gear up for Q2, we've compiled a list of OKRs for the team, creating personal and team-level goals for the departmental OKRs, and defining clear ownership for each. We use our project management tool, Monday.com, to view the progress of goals across sub-teams. It's also a great way for team members to see where they can collaborate or assist in helping reach goals. Breaking down silos is no easy task for a company, but there is nothing more powerful in a company than employees rowing fiercely in the same direction.

Let’s talk about it together!

Share your thoughts on LinkedIn using #thecravediscussion This week’s topic: What's one action you could take today to break down silos in your department?

Currently craving

  • Reading: We started a Foleon Book Club and this month's read is Bewilderment by Richard Powers, which is a tender sci-fi novel about family, the environment and our place in the world.
  • Listening: Craig David's debut album, Born to do it, is still on my playlist 22 years later. For those who love Pop and R&B, this album strikes the perfect balance between the two.

Sim Samra

Content Marketer

About the author

I am a Content Marketer and one of the Foleon blog’s main curators. Born and bred in London. Honorary Amsterdammer. Liverpool FC supporter. Lover of carbs and puns. Horror movie fanatic.

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