Connecting the Silos

Ellis Stanley, Sr., CEM
Contributor: Ellis Stanley, Sr., CEM

Silo mentality: Retaining information and knowledge from others within the same company or organization, only contributing to a reduction in efficiency.

It’s a vicious cycle. Just as competitiveness and division can cause silo mentality; silo mentality can cause competitiveness and division. There are numerous potential causes, but the biggest influence is a culture that reinforces this behavior, rather than working as a team.

…And Effect
Silo mentality is most detrimental when talking about disaster events. Emergency managers must plan and make quick decisions during a disaster in order for the whole community to be able to respond properly. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a great decline in ownership when it comes to individuals owning their responsibilities during these difficult times. During the 5.8-magnitude earthquake (epicenter in Mineral, Virginia) in 2011, many waited until signified that it was an earthquake to move, versus taking shelter as soon as they felt trouble. Everyone must do their part to move to safety instead of making it someone else’s call.

Successful Organizations
Successful organizations are generally led by managers who devote significant amounts of time ensuring that information flows freely, guaranteeing that all aspects of the company/organization function effectively.

Many communities, like Chile, are resilient. Citizens are taught from a young age to go to high ground during an earthquake. We conducted interviews to enquire about the evacuation times in other cultures, and on average it took 18 minutes to evacuate a Chilean hospital. How long do you think it would take to evacuate a hospital in America?

The Solution
In this country, we need to learn from cultures like Chili and become more resilient. When disasters strike it should be a natural reaction to move to safety. There is no need to wait for a signal or be told what actions to take. Knowing what to do in an emergency must be a priority.

Companies and organizations must also take action in emphasizing to their employees the importance of communicating knowledge, particularly what to do during a disaster event. Everyone must work as a team to ensure their safety. At Dewberry, we recently participated in the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s statewide tornado drill, refreshing employees’ memories on proper tornado response techniques. To read more about that successful drill, read our blog, “Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.”

Information retained in a silo can be beneficial—if shared with others. Stay connected with people outside of your group and the synergy that these ideas produce can create the great advantages.
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