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The Reason Organizations Struggle to Adapt to a Rapidly Changing Environment

The Problem: Silos

  • Visualize It: Imagine each area of your organization walled off from the others. Alarming, right?
  • Focus Issues: Departments focusing solely on their own objectives miss the mark on holistic alignment and desired outcomes.
  • Misalignment: Different goals within silos lead to fragmented efforts, making it hard to hit the overall vision and customer/business outcomes.
  • Resource Strain: With limited resources, focusing only on individual parts means the most crucial problems may be overlooked.

Key Insights

  • Customer Problems: Most critical customer issues span multiple silos, functional areas, or departments.
  • Missed Context: Solving problems within silos can ignore broader impacts and how other teams might address the same issues.
  • Unintended Consequences: One area's solution can negatively affect another area without recognizing it.

The Solution: Cross-Functional Collaboration

1. Identify Critical Problems:

  • Align organizational efforts with the vision and broader strategy.
  • Determine the most important problems to solve as a unified organization.

2. Assemble Cross-Functional Teams:

  • Combine diverse knowledge, skills, and domain expertise.
  • Focus on solving customer problems collectively.

3. Leverage Organizational Knowledge:

  • Utilize the learning, data, and expertise from leaders and teams throughout the organization.

A Case Study: COVID-19 Response

  • Unified Mission: During COVID, the organization had to operate together towards specific customer and business outcomes.
  • Clarity and Alignment: All employees knew what was needed to achieve objectives and track success metrics.
  • Cross-Functional Teams: Leaders had no choice but to assemble these teams, empowering them to quickly understand and solve customer problems.
  • Rapid Iterations: Unified focus enabled fast responses to evolving information and restrictions.

Post-COVID Challenge

  • Return to Silos: Post-pandemic, many organizations reverted to silos, causing competing priorities and goals.
  • Struggles Resurface: The ease of siloed operations led to the same old challenges.

Call to Action:

  • Break Down Silos: For any organization aiming to thrive in a rapidly changing environment, it’s time to dismantle these silos again.


Written By Pam Krengel