I’m asking your help for a new project I’m working on. I’m looking for examples of claims that the problem with an institution is the vertical or hierarchical nature of its organization. Put colloquially, I’m looking for arguments where the thesis is that the obstacle to more innovation, bigger profits, or better results is that there are too many corporate “silos”, and that the solution is to “bust the silos”.
The classic version of this is the mission statement from the company that used to be called Canwest, which read, in part: “Our people bust the silos to leverage the content, best practices and the tremendous brain power that exists throughout our organization.”
Yet it strikes me that this assumption is endemic in the literature on corporate organization and in management theory. I know that an emphasis on “horizontality” is a part of the neverending attempt at re-imagining the public service in Ottawa. It is also the implicit theory behind the push for “interdisciplinarity” or “collaborative research” in the universities. In every case, the argument is the same: Vertical bad, horizontal good. Rules bad, freedom good. etc.
What I’m asking for are specific examples. Management books, mission statements, position papers, office memos, you name it – please send them on. If you can think of examples where an organization – university, newsroom, corporation, etc. – has been turned upside-down in the name of busting silos, please tell me your story in the comments, or email Jandrewpotter at gmail.com
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.