In the first two parts of our series on silo mentality, we hammered home the point that a company full of silos won't last long. We discussed the warning signs. Now we'll tell you how to break free free of silos.

In this post, we'll not only discuss theory, but also give you some tools. Your company will be able to use these tools to increase the two things most important to success: collaboration and communication.

Breaking Free of Silos: The Theory

Silo mentality starts with management, but so does breaking out of it. If leadership doesn't make a move to bring the company together, the rest of the organization will just blindly follow their lead.

There are two main steps to breaking out of a silo:

  1. Create a unified vision for the company. This common vision needs to be recognized first by the leaders of the silos then adapted by everyone else. Having everyone in the right mindset will begin moving your organization towards a culture of collaboration.
  2. Devise a plan to work towards this common goal. Just having a goal isn't enough — you need to actually lay out a plan and the steps to reaching it. This means finding a way to motivate everyone to work towards the goal and keeping a close eye on the progress of the plan.

Every member of the team should feel like they're benefiting from working towards this goal, and they should have clear instructions on how they can get there.

Start with creating a culture of collaboration. There are some actions you can take to get started.

  • Increase communication between departments by creating cross-department teams to handle specific projects. Make sure these teams don't become silos themselves by switching up the members frequently.
  • Make sure everyone feels appreciated by creating an environment where people express gratitude and are acknowledged for their good work.
  • Implement Work-Out Sessions that we discussed in the last part of the series to tackle specific problems that arise.

Once the door to better communication is ajar, use tools to help make sure it stays open. Keep everyone on the same page by implementing a progress tracking tool that allows anyone in the company to not only see their own progress, but also department and company progress as a whole. This holistic view will give the entire company a shared sense of purpose. It will ensure that there's no confusion as to who's doing what.

Tools that Break Silos

The most important thing when implementing a tool to help manage responsibilities within your company is to use only one main tool. It's likely that you'll be using a different tool for email, internal company communication, and product design and that's ok — as long as they all integrate into your main collaboration tool.

Having a central tool means that it will span across your entire organization, increasing collaboration and transparency. This should be a tool that helps your team manage projects and organize information in a way that works best for them. Here are a few of our favorites.

Trello Helps You Figure Out What You Need

It is often considered one of the simplest collaboration tools, but don't let Trello's simple design fool you. Getting started with Trello is quick and painless, especially if you've never used a project management tool before.

But their real strength shines through in their templates and inspiration boards. These examples show how flexible and customizable Trello can be. Playing around with different setups can help you figure out what design works best for each of your departments. Regardless of their needs, each board can be customized so that Trello becomes the central place for working towards your unified goal.

Trello also integrates with many different tools that you might already be using — including Slack, Google Drive and GitHub — making it easy to make Trello the place for all the information your business needs.

Teamwork Projects Keeps Projects on Track

Working in a silo makes it hard to keep track of deadlines and responsibilities. People get overwhelmed and work falls through the cracks. Teamwork Projects helps keep everything related to each project in one specific place so everyone has a vision of the progress of the project and what needs to be done next.

Your team members can add tasks to relevant projects as well as see reports on how well things are progressing. This keeps plans on track and makes it easy to notice when things are falling behind so you can take action to fix it. With integrations to many different tools and all the information they need in one place, your team can start working towards their common goal.

Airtable Has a Format for Everyone

Keeping all of your information in one central location is key to bringing your departments together, but what if your teams all prefer to work off different formats? Your dev team likes to have information displayed in a spreadsheet format, but your sales team prefers the kanban view of tracking projects. Airtable provides a place where you don't have to choose, because whatever format you want, Airtable has it.

With a variety of starter base templates to choose from, you can get every department within your company onto Airtable in no time. With multiple bases and tabs to keep things organized, anyone can see what others are working on, increasing transparency. There are also over 450 integrations available through Zapier to keep all your tools connected.

Asana Keeps Things Prioritized

Every member of the team should have specific projects and tasks that ladder up to company-wide goals. But there should also be a focus on reducing redundancies — a direct result of working in silos.

Asana's central location makes it possible for tasks and priorities to be distributed among team members. Managers can view the progress of each task, while individual contributors can manage and prioritize their own workspace.

Having a clear view of individual responsibilities allows management to keep an eye out for redundancies. It is then possible to manage resources better and keep projects on track. Asana has many integrations for keeping your whole company on the same page.

JIRA Works With Everything

If your company doesn't have a preferred set of tools, any of the above are an option.  But what if each team has a set workflow and tools they use every day they don't want to switch from?

The tools above have one thing in common—they all integrate with JIRA, (either through Zapier or directly). And even though JIRA is considered a “software development tool”, it is powerful because it can be used in a variety of different ways. Gliffy's marketing team, for example, uses JIRA as a project management tool.

To break out of silos, we need a tool that allows us to:

  • Create and track projects
  • Sync between teams
  • Customize features to your specific needs

JIRA does all of that. But perhaps JIRA's most powerful feature is its dozens of add-ons and integrations. JIRA can be customized to fit the needs of any team. After all, you shouldn't have to change your workflow to accommodate a project management tool. The tool should accommodate you.

via giphy

Something New & Exciting

We love JIRA. But sometimes we find ourselves getting lost in its text-heavy UI. Being fans of expressing ideas visually we had an idea for how to supercharge the JIRA experience. And while we can't tell you much more than that yet, stay tuned for an exciting new product that we will be unveiling in the next few months!

No Excuse for Silos

So there you have it. Now you know what a silo is and how to tell when you're in it. You're also equipped with the tools to get your company out. We don't need to keep hammering home how bad a silo is — you already know that. But we do ask that you be the change you want to see. Share these articles with your team and your leadership. Make sure everyone is working together not in their own little bubble.