[supplied title]

grain elevator pitch

Nobody likes the metaphorical silo. It's the reason organizations are divided, systems can't talk to each other, and no one knows where anything is. Let's break down the silos, get some cross-functional teams together, get that new data product that uses AI to make the connections you didn't know you were looking for. And throw a search box in there somewhere.

I guess I don't hear people talk about silos as much I used to, so writing that felt a bit dated. (Except the bit about AI.) But for a long time silos were the worst and needed to be destroyed at reasonable costs. Did an article talk about silos? Did a speaker have a picture of one on a slide? Did someone mention silos in a meeting about organizational efficiency? You can pretty much guarantee that in all of these cases the silo reference was negative.

Maybe I'm too literal, but the silo metaphor never sat well with me. The silo is a sophisticated storage technology. It's a type of structure that faciliates transfer and exchange. An effective silo is a container that's appropriate to its contents. It has walls but its purpose isn't to wall things off for good.

In my experience, the metaphor of the silo usually points to real problems. Where I disagree is how to characterize them. There are certainly situations where information is stored in a container that's too specialized, and the only way to get it out is a process that's been optimized for that content and that container, and you need a new approach to make things more widely available.

But often the problem is the opposite: information has been tossed on the floor with little regard for storage or retrieval and it's just sitting there in piles on the ground. Every time someone needs something and they don't know where it is already, they go diving into the piles, sometimes creating new ones. Building a few silos would be an improvement.