Friday 5 July 2024

Parable about working in silos vs. collaboration

There is a rock blocking a road.

One person comes up to it, sees it, and goes around it. Another person arrives, notices the rock, puts a post-it note on it saying "there is a rock blocking the road," and then takes the path around the rock. A third person comes, shouts back, "Hey, there is a rock on the road, be careful," and also goes around it.

All these actions demonstrate siloed thinking. Each person takes their own way, and even though they think about helping others, they do not address the root cause of the problem.

Then, a fourth person arrives. He stops and starts working on moving the rock out of the way. Others join him, and together they eventually move the rock off the road. After removing the obstacle, they all proceed on the cleared path. This is an example of collaboration.

Questions to consider:

  • What if the goal was to reach the destination as quickly as possible? What roles should people take in this scenario?
  • If all these individuals were on one team, is it acceptable for different team members to take different approaches to explore various outcomes?
  • How do skill sets and abilities factor into this scenario?
  • Finally, what can organizations do to clarify which approach they want their teams to take and in what situations?

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