For those of us who live and breathe technology, it’s easy to believe that we’re all one release away from solving the big challenges facing our organizations. 

Unfortunately, the reality is more complicated than that. 

For example, let’s talk about silos, the barriers that exist between different teams or departments within an organization. For years, if you told a room full of executives that cross-team collaboration was good for their organizations, not a single person would disagree with you. Yet despite that, siloed organizations remain excruciatingly common. Last year, Stack Overflow asked over 73,000 software developers whether knowledge silos prevented them from getting ideas from across the organization. Nearly half of them – and 57% of people managers – said yes. 

The consequences to these silos can be severe: They can lead to poor communication, duplicated efforts, a lack of coordination, and wasted time and money – all of which can negatively impact an organization’s performance and customer experience.

How do you break down these silos? It starts with building the right culture. Here’s how to get started. 

Align priorities and plan proactively

It’s hard to get teams working toward common goals if no one knows what those goals are. 

For this reason, the first step in creating silo-free culture is clearly communicating your teams’ respective priorities. Every team needs to know what their counterparts are working on and what their respective roles and responsibilities are. Doing so will be critical to preventing duplication of efforts and streamlining collaboration. 

The second step is aligning priorities across teams to ensure everyone is working towards the same business goals. It’s essential to have a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished and how each team’s contributions contribute to the organization’s overall success. 

This cross-team alignment should also extend to error budgeting. Because different teams often have different needs and priorities depending on the criticality of the systems they oversee, it’s common to have wide differences in error budging. Giving everyone full transparency into what their organization can handle allows them to plan around it and create contingency plans for scenario-planning.

Creating a blame-less culture

While we can’t entirely prevent bad things from happening within our IT organizations, we can control our response to them. 

For example, I strongly believe that every organization should strive to create a “blameless culture.” What does that mean? It means that when things go wrong, organizations blame the process, not their teams. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, they’re focusing their attention on what’s important: understanding where the existing processes broke down and figuring out how to avoid similar problems in the future. 

This approach is powerful because it empowers teams to continuously learn and improve. Blame isn’t conducive to growth, neither individually nor organizationally. The sooner you remove it from your organization, the stronger your organization will be. 

Compliment the right culture with the right technology

While I started this article by talking about the limits of technology, it would be crazy to claim that digital tools don’t play a critical role in dissolving organizational silos, particularly in our hybrid environments.  

For example, modern business intelligence platforms keep teams on the same page by giving them increased visibility into the service performance across their organizations. Having a unified platform with complementary tools that safely share data with each other are incredibly useful for providing the foundation to breakdown silos. Likewise, I’ve also been excited by the increasing role of AI and automation, which are helping teams make better decisions faster and, in many cases, resolving incidents before they occur. Technology matters; it’s just not the only thing that matters. 

Better operations through fewer silos

Even as technology continues to improve, creating a culture that prioritizes clear communication and collaboration will be essential to organizations’ efforts to break down silos.  This is equally true for IT organizations as it is for businesses overall. No matter where you sit, constant, intentional collaboration with teams across your organization will be core to your success.