Silo Busting 101

by Zach Armstrong

We work in a large division of several hundred people. Sometimes it is difficult to hear about the work being accomplished by other teams in the division, and that work may be relevant to yours. We often refer to this separation to as being “siloed,” referencing the recognizable sealed storage units used in agriculture and other industries. While being in a large sealed container is great if you’re a kernel of wheat dreaming of becoming a Mama’s Boy biscuit, it’s not ideal for a member of a top Development and Alumni Relations team.

“Silo busting” is the term I’m using for any activity which enables communication across teams and helps us make connections. These connections help us avoid duplicating work, open up an avenue of collaboration, or simply appreciate the hard work a team has done. Below is a list of ways each of us can help “bust through” the imaginary silos we sometimes feel like we’re in, and here’s some good news: many of the items in the list below are already long-established DAR silo-busting efforts!

  • “Remember, you’re a router”Rule #5 from “9 Rules for Emailing
    • If you receiving some information from another team that may be useful to yours, pass it along to your team in whatever way works best (email, Microsoft Teams, staff meeting, etc.). Your worst-case scenario is that people see it and determine they don’t need the information; your best-case scenario is that someone absolutely needed the information.
    • If you are passing the information along to your team via email, let them know (if appropriate) there’s no response needed by saying “FYI” in the email you’re forwarding.
  • Learn about other DAR teams
  • Encourage cross-team presentations at staff meetings.
    • This is one many DAR teams already engage in. Have you heard about some interesting work another team is doing that may be relevant to yours? Request that they come to one of your upcoming staff meetings and give a presentation on the topic.

This list wouldn’t be complete without the timely mention of Talent Management’s Remote Learning Circles! These cross-team groups provide a great opportunity to connect with other staff members. I’m already signed up, and you may sign up at this link by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.


How have you encouraged cross-team communication in your time at DAR? If you have any suggestions to add to this list, send me an email!