The Silo Effect

The Silo Effect

The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers

Wall Street Journal Books, 2015 more...

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


Silos – isolated units in companies or departments – can be both positive and negative. They can represent specialization or harmful tunnel vision. The highly regarded US managing editor of the Financial Times, Gillian Tett, asks what causes silos and how your organization can master them. She offers innovative ways to help organizations evolve and thrive. Tett's analysis, which includes a variety of detailed, valuable examples, will inspire anyone who is searching for organizational improvement.

Silos represent isolation.

Today’s connected world is highly fragmented. Professions specialize. Organizations and businesses break down into varied departments. Partitions define politics.

Gillian Tett offers several descriptors to address this fragmentation: “boxes,” “buckets,” “ghettos” or “tribes.” The most useful term is “silo,” from the tall grain storage structures commonly found on farms. The term “silo” also identifies below-ground storage locations for guided missiles. Management consultants, Tett points out, adapted it to describe a department or process that stands alone, detached from others. A silo can be a structure, a division in an organization or, the author notes presciently, even a state of mind.

About the Author

US Financial Times managing editor Gillian Tett covers financial markets. She was named British Business Journalist of the Year (2014). She also wrote Fool’s Gold, about the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

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