BOOKCASE : Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable about Destroying the Barriers that turn Colleagues into Competitors

• Patrick M Lencioni • Jossey-Bass • $39.99

“Silos – and the turf wars they enable – devastate organisations. They waste resources, kill productivity and jeopardise the achievement of goals,” Patrick Lencioni claims in the introduction to Silos, Politics and Turf Wars.
They also exact considerable human toll, causing “frustration, stress and disillusionment by forcing employees to fight bloody, unwinnable battles with people who should be their team-mates”.
It may seem extravagant, but this observation has considerable credibility for anyone who has worked in organisations where silos have developed – or, indeed, been encouraged. Those working in the professional area of dispute resolution would certainly attest to the disruptive and destructive effects of divisions created in the workplace by intra-organisational conflict.
Lencioni speaks of using tool with clients that has been “universally and successfully adopted”. The following 200 pages illustrate this “tool” through thinly disguised fictional “consultant” (one assumes Lencioni himself) who works with number of different organisations to combat or prevent the damaging effects of silos.
The “fable” he creates shows his hero developing, partly by design and partly by chance, ways of enabling people to work collaboratively rather than competitively. Much of it is common sense. He identifies top-level sign-on as vital and this is supported by research in the field of dispute resolution/conflict prevention systems design.
Lencioni recognises the importance when breaking down silos of replacing them with positive alternatives – with shared companywide goals, especially with ones where there are recognised reciprocal bene-fits. He points to the way in which groups pull together in crisis and asks “why not create the same kind of momentum and clarity and sense of shared purpose that you’d have if you were on the verge of going out of business?”.
The final pages of the book provide model for combating silos. This section, like the rest of the book, is light on research and analysis and heavy on anecdote and opinion. The “model” is too simple for the complex difficulties acknowledged earlier.
Silos, Politics and Turf Wars is useful in that it recognises serious problem facing management and organisations. However, it will take more than the contents of this book to adequately address these difficulties. – Virginia Goldblatt

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