The Silo Effect: Why putting everything in its place isn’t such a bright idea

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The Silo Effect: Why putting everything in its place isn’t such a bright idea

Gillian Tett has the unique viewpoint of a financial journalist who witnesses the performance of companies and economies close up, and steps back to observe human and tribal behaviour from her training in anthropology. The award-winning FT columnist and US editor has now turned her attention to silos – the practice of building groups in companies to create specialisations. The American subtitle of this book – the peril of expertise and the promise of breaking down barriers – emphasises the real dangers of having these rigid organisational structures in place. From the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to the threat from al Qaeda in 2001, major disasters could have been averted if individual departments had not hoarded data and communicated concerns more widely.

While acknowledging that silos are not always bad – we need specialist expertise – the book highlights what can be achieved when cultural walls are breached.

Through engaging story-telling, Tett uses eight case studies to highlight what can go wrong, and looks at organisations who are doing everything they can to disrupt the negative effect of silos. Highlights include:

 Silos exist in structures. But they exist in our minds and social groups too. Silos breed tribalism. But they can also go hand in hand with tunnel vision.” Gillian Tett

Mastering silos is not a task that is ever truly completed – it is always a work in progress. It comes about when we leave ourselves open to collisions with people and ideas outside our own (often self-imposed) structures. Could we all become better anthropologists – looking at how we can better organise ourselves – and seeing all those risks and opportunities which might just be right under our own noses?

** About the author Gillian Tett is US managing editor and columnist at the Financial Times. She has also been the FT’s Tokyo bureau chief, and deputy head of the influential Lex Column. She has won many awards for her work including Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2014 and British Business Journalist of the Year in 2008. Tett is the author of the award-winning Fools Gold, which covered the financial crisis, and Saving the Sun, which looked at banking practices in Japan. She gained a doctorate in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, studying human behaviour in Tajikistan and Tibet.

Reviews “Her treatment is highly intelligent, enjoyable and enlivened by a string of vivid case studies. It is also genuinely important, because her prescription for curing the pathological silo-isation of business and government is refreshingly unorthodox and, in my view, convincing.” Felix Martin in The Financial Times

“This lively business book aims its fire at company groupthink.” Anne Ashworth, The Times


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Book Details

Author: Gillian Tett

ISBN: 978-1451644739