Bottlenecks & Silos

Bottlenecks & Silos

A coke has a bottleneck and your business does too.

"It's stuck again!" The employees cry out. It’s stuck as it’s coming down that small decision making squeeze in the system.

Everyone is frustrated and your team wants to throw in the towel. "It takes so long to push something through, we're always waiting on Mr. Borewell to approve.”

Mr. Borwell knows everything, it all comes to his desk and no one can buy as much as a button of sticky stuff without his green light. (At least it's all in the open).

The swing to the other end of the communication jungle are silos.

"Everyone works in isolation," says the frustrated leader. I don't see what anyone is doing. I can't tell if we're hitting our targets. I just get presented with stuff that I have no clue why we're even doing that.”

A bottleneck is something that clogs your organization's workflow. It can come in many forms: bad culture, too much information, too much work, too little work, only one capable decision maker, etc.

Silos are created when the pendulum swings the other way and everyone works in isolation: lack of communication, clearly defined vision and goals, and criticism is directed from each silo toward one another.

Bottlenecks (too much info) lead to Silos (I don't want any info) and the vicious cycle starts to ping back and forth. 

So what do we do? Beers have bottlenecks, old school cokes have bottle necks, salad dressings have bottlenecks and that's where they belong. Farms have silos so the nothing spills out and so that no pests destroy the harvested grain. 

Here’s the Way to Look at Silos and Bottlenecks:

#1: Have lanes not silos. Lanes allow you to see what everyone else is doing and being able to openly watch everyone make progress, without having to open up a door or go through a wall. Make the goals and work projects transparent.

#2: Don't have bottlenecks, rather have empowerment checkpoints. Create targets that your team pushes for and make clear the empowerment incentive when they hit the target. Create your framework before initiation of a project and make sure you have specific desired outcomes. This way, decision approvals are done in advance. When the target is hit, the bottleneck becomes the acceleration point of incentive. "Here's the report, it hit all the targets—check my work if you'd like—we want to move onto the next project." BOOM.

Bottlenecks will always pop up in your organization. Don’t allow them to fling you to the other side of the spectrum and create silos. Rather, rally the troops, set clear goals and incentives, and empower decisions to be made to press past the bottleneck with streamlined efficiency.

(photo via fabio coatti)