Monday, May 30, 2011

Creativity is not a process. John Jay ECD at W+K. Breaking out of the Silo

I have been thinking about "silos" quite a bit recently and was pulling some stuff together to do a piece. Then along comes this brilliant clip, by Fast Company, with John Jay, ECD at the Wieden+Kennedy agency, who neatly nails the "silo" problem-solution in just over two minutes.

Let me back up a bit. There seems to be a cultural paradox out there, in this 24/7 connected age of collaboration, between what agencies and companies say and what they actually do (between talking the talk and walking the walk, if you will). This "silo paradox" seems to be both outward and inward: outwardly the company "silo" mind-set that  limits interaction with outsiders and the internal "mini-silo" thinking, that limits interaction between departments and disciplines (Marketing from Systems/IT; Marketing from Finance etc.).

I have shared these observations with people I know in larger, supposedly outward looking, cross-disciplined, team orientated, organizations and the typical response is: at the outward level, "sure we want to be open and collaborative but, we have to maintain confidentiality"; or at the inward level, "boy they (insert department) are hard to talk to". OK, fair enough. But isn't there an obvious downside here: credibility?

Anyway, back to John Jay. Here are my favorite quotes from the clip.

  • "Get out of your comfort zone, culturally. . ."
  • "We get silo-ed to death. . . ." 
  • "The longer you work the more people want to put you in a silo, so they can define who you are by their terms. Never let anyone define you by their terms".

Do you have a POV on "silos"? Comments most welcome.