January 28, 2020 Last updated January 28th, 2020 235 Reads share

Is a Work OS the Solution for Your Organization’s Problems? Maybe, But Probably Not.

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Your company faces serious leadership and management issues. Its various departments work in independent silos, each interpreting the corporate mission in its own way, and all pulling in different directions to achieve it. Because of this situation, where there is no horizontal alignment, cross-team collaboration is only a dream and in fact, any inter-departmental collaboration is enormously difficult.

With the inefficiencies and poor communications of this Tower of Babel, your leadership team is almost invisible to the rank and file. How can workers embrace your priorities if they aren’t aware of what they are?

According to vendors, there’s a technology fix for this: work OS. These solutions, that include companies such as monday.com, Coda and Notion, claim to offer a remedy for these kinds of dysfunctions. With their easy-to-use communication and collaboration tools, centralized resources and automated workflows, they make it easy to knock down silos and have everyone pull together for the same corporate goals.

A Work OS allows managers to easily track progress on any task and project, so they can pivot when necessary and reallocate resources to keep things moving forward. Different teams and departments are connected and communicating with each other, aligned in the same workflows, running together in lockstep, on the same agile sprints. The easy creation and automation of workflows and seamless access to the third-party apps team members like to use, means that employees can spend more time doing the work they love and are good at, and less on menial tasks. . . And the pitch goes on.

This, at least, the story they tell.

If setting up this cloud-based hub for all work and cooperation within your organization sounds like a solution that’s too good to be true, that’s because it is. A work OS is an amazing tool but it’s only as effective as the organization, and the people, wielding it.

Companies Need Real Change Not a Band-Aid

True corporate change is painful and it’s tempting to use Band-Aid remedies. But these can disguise the fact that that company-wide work problems start with issues at the top.

One of the chief issues that leaders and managers face is a silo mentality – “a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same organization. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce trust and morale, and may contribute to the demise of productive company culture.”

Salesforce, for example, cites a study surveying 1,400 corporate executives, employees and educators, in which 86% of respondents blame a lack of collaboration ineffective communication as the reason for workplace failures.

“We must address the fact that organizational silos can . . . be the result of a conflicted leadership team, and that conflict trickles down causing unrest and employees becoming fearful of sticking their necks out,” writes Brent Gleeson, a keynote speaker and author of Taking Point.

In essence, corporations don’t need more technological tools, they need leaders who:

  • Work together to create a unified vision for the company.

  • Inspire employees to strive towards a common goal

  • Provide incentives and motivation to keep everyone energized and on track.

  • Define the benchmarks and timeframe used to measure progress and success

  • Foster a company-wide culture of collaboration

True Collaboration is the Key to Success

Yes, statistics show again and again that fostering collaboration across teams and departments will boost business results and morale. For example, a joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College examined more than 1,100 companies and found that organizations that promote collaborative working are five times more likely to be high performing. In fact, just the perception of working collectively on a team can boost performance, another study shows.

A Harvard Business Review article on “Cross Silo Leadership” argues that leaders need to help their people to develop the capacity to cross boundaries and “see and connect with pools of expertise throughout their organizations and to work better with colleagues who think very differently from them.”

To overcome the challenges of doing this on an individual and organizational level, they should implement these practices (rather than just buying the latest software suite):

  • Cultivate and deploy people with wide experience – These are the people in a company who already have “experiences and relationships that span multiple sectors, functions, or domains and informally serve as links between them.”

  • Encourage employees to ask the right questions – The only way people can learn to work across work boundaries is to ask a lot of the right kinds of questions. Management and leadership can spark the process by asking smart questions themselves, taking a reading of what their employees think and feel.

  • Learn to see things through the eyes of others – Through cross-silo dialogs, enlightened hiring practices and other methods, leaders and managers can help employees see things from other people’s points of view, helping reduce the kind of misunderstandings that can happen between different groups in a company.

  • Broaden everyone’s vision – Teach people to widen their horizons by looking beyond their immediate job function, or business unit or team. This can be done, for example, by bringing together people from diverse groups together on company initiatives. Or by urging employees to look to networks outside of the company and even their industry for inspiration and information.

Increase Leadership and Management Visibility

In his post, “To Succeed in Business Managers Need More Visibility,” David Hassell points out: “You can’t fix what you can’t see, and you can’t manage what you are unaware of. This principle is true for both top-down visibility, as well as awareness of what’s happening on and across teams.”

To break down silos in an organization first requires candid communication between leadership/management and employees. By doing this, managers can establish a bond of trust and growing confidence that gives teams the freedom to succeed. At the same time, the leadership and management will become “visible” to their teams, who are buoyed by their support and guided by their business priorities.

With encouragement and guidance from the top, teams will start to communicate with and support each other in the same way, trading silos for valuable cross-team collaboration.

Once a company’s enlightened leadership and managers are committed to gaining trust, aligning everyone with corporate strategy and business goals, breaking down dysfunctional vertical structures, and promoting organization-wide cooperation, then they could turn to a work OS for valuable assistance in achieving these aims.

enhanced workflow -DepositPhotos

Kaushal Malkan

Kaushal Malkan

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