Why Silos Are Bad for Your Content and How to Avoid it

In the early days of DivvyHQ, we were always a little dumbstruck when large, enterprise companies walked through our virtual front door in the throws of major organizational change, and looking for a content planning and collaboration platform.

One of those early customers was a large technology manufacturer/retailer based in the UK. They were having major problems keeping tabs on all the content that was being produced and published throughout their the company’s 50 geographic markets across the globe. Each market had its own content team, and there was very little communication between these siloed teams.

On one occasion, two different teams with two different agency relationships brought newly produced videos to the company’s Chief Content Officer for review. The videos were almost identical. Both teams had spent a lot of money and time to get those videos produced via their respective agencies. Tens of thousands of dollars had been wasted due to a lack of communication between these siloed content teams.

Breaking Down the Bad

Wouldn’t they have been better off collaborating and pooling their resources to create one killer video that could be used in multiple markets? Of course they would, but a lot of businesses struggle with a lack of proactive planning and transparency, so waste and missed opportunities abound. If you look at a grain silo, then you’ll notice there’s one missing feature: windows.

It’s not a problem for grain silos, but as an organizational structure it makes less sense. Working day in and day out in a silo makes some tasks easier, but it’s harder to hold regular cross-departmental meetings, meaning communication breaks down.

Some organizations don’t have a problem with that lack of integration, but in today’s marketing environment it creates problems and a “cover your ass” mentality. People play their cards close to their vest, and they look to benefit their own silo instead of the organization as a whole.

If there’s no executive pressure for transparency and collaboration, then there won’t be any pressure from below, and good marketers will either get burned out or leave for better prospects.

A Roadmap For Organizational Change

Another one of our customers (let’s call them ACME Diagnostics) had the same problem. Their organization is comprised of five main business units, each with its own marketing team and product offerings. ACME kept running into issues with either confused or perturbed customers who were receiving too many conflicting messages from different business units. The company brought on an executive to lead a new “strategic affairs” initiative designed to force a more integrated, strategic umbrella over their 5 silos and to foster collaboration.

With a dedicated executive leading this organizational change, ACME started tearing down it’s silo walls and introduced several new processes and tools. Here’s an inside look at the four main components that helped them implement these changes.

  1. Top-Down Support and Accountability
    Whether it’s a C-Suite exec or a VP, driving organizational change from the top-down is often the only way things will get done. These people control budgets, provide support and resources and are ultimately accountable for the performance of your group. So it’s not uncommon for these executives to drop the hammer and tell people “we’re going to do this, so make it happen.”
  2. Create a Safe Space for Ideas
    Lack of trust leads to more corporate BS and a hostile work environment. You always end up with duplicated efforts and a lack of collaboration when people wall themselves in. A safe environment is one that fosters trust and transparency, and this makes people more willing to share their ideas. Aim to make trust your status quo.
  3. Find a Good Collaboration Platform
    There was a time when you had to see a colleague in person to pass on information, but email put an end to that years ago. Plenty of other tools exist now. Depending on the type of work your teams have to manage, there are a host of software solutions to consider. Many content marketing platforms are designed to bring visibility to the content schedules of both for external, internal and decentralized communications teams. This visibility keeps everyone in the loop, reduces waste and promotes sharing of assets across teams.
  4. Formalize Your Editorial Process
    When your planning process is siloed, and your editorial team players aren’t all on the same page, then your brand image may turn into a convoluted mess. Ensure that everybody understands the core mission of your marketing communications, who your key audiences are, what your messaging is, and where and how you are going to deliver that message. Find a realistic frequency of output, and formalize it. Your marketing efforts will be stronger and more sustainable.

Organizational Change is Hard, But…

By doing nothing, you will continue to waste time, money, and effort in silos that aren’t going to change by themselves. Build a transparent, collaborative culture and your business will soon see the benefits.