Very simple things can make a significant impact on an organization. Unfortunately, when there is no process or structure in place to capture relevant organization connections, there is missed opportunity and inefficiency. What is intended to be a good thing for an organization (Separate Process Areas for a Targeted Propose) has a tendency to evolve into siloed environments that cause organizations to have “Blurred Vision”.
As silos become more established, they have a tendency to move towards working independently and become less focused on other relevant areas that hold connected information. It is only natural; people within a particular process area get focused on their piece of the organizational puzzle and become less familiar and less concerned with other important pieces of the puzzle.
Actual “Silos” (vertical structures on farms) typically stand right beside each other. Although silos may be close to each other logistically, if you step into or are on the other side of a silo, you are unable to see the other silo that is literally right next to you.
This type of environment is not uncommon in organizations. Organizational process areas can reside next to each other, people within the process areas can walk by each other daily, sit beside each other in company meetings/functions, interact socially, but miss identifying simple and relevant organizational connections.
The Risk Leader has a responsibility to look cross-functionally at their organization. Cross-functional Vision is a “Risk”. It needs to be identified as such and processes and/or controls need to be put in place to permeate the silos and make important connections that otherwise do not get made.
Most organizations have cross-functional vision issues. As the silo’d environments start evolving, the organizational lenses are not adjusted to see similar needs and opportunities that reside in different process areas.
Silos are in organizations for a reason and provide needed value. The objective is not to eliminate silos. Silos are where collaboration takes shape, direction and focus becomes targeted and stakeholders can build trust and a sense of belonging. The unique expertise the silo holds provides market intelligence and technical know-how to be experts in a dimension of the organization.
Putting process and focus into cross-functional vision promotes protection against the negative ramifications that silo’d environments bring. In addition to not seeing/making natural connections, the negative ramifications of silos include redundancies and lack of transparency that can lead to excessive organizational noise and process areas that hold on to risks that can be harmful to an organization.
Each silo’d area holds a piece of the bigger organizational puzzle. When there is no foresight to see cross-functionally, simple but powerful solutions do not get recognized and the broader puzzle does not get put together. Not correcting this vision issue is wasteful and costly to organizations.
Correcting the Vision
We live in a world where laser eye surgery is commonplace to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness. It is technology that allows for 95% of cases to be successful in the first attempt. Like technology that has evolved for our personal vision, there is organizational laser surgery available that is not complex, is pain-free and can bring a significant ROI.
The work (organizational surgery) is to insert some consistency and repeatable processes into business process areas/silos so that commonalities can be recognized. This consistency is a way for process areas to identify both risks and opportunities and make important connections where they exist.
An essential part of the best practice is for an organization to establish a basic “Risk Register” that each process area contributes to by identifying and reporting their specific risk. As this risk gets housed in a central location through a standardize process, simple but powerful connections can start to be made.
Organizations will see immediate value by having structure to identifying risks, structure to organizing and prioritizing the risk and structure to reporting the risk so that the data can be aggregated up. As this process occurs and information aggregates up, it allows the organization to correct its cross-functional vision issues and for more global options and solutions to surface.
An additional and simple part of the organizational surgery is putting a consistent and repeatable process to quantify risk that is identified. Cross-functional vision gets blurred when there is no structure to putting a “Value” to risks that each process area holds. This is corrected by surgically applying a “Rating Process” that works cross-functionally so that apples to apples comparisons can be made with an organization’s limited time and resources. This surgical fix will correct the vision within silos and among/across silos.
By inserting a register that includes consistency to collecting data (risk) and a rating process with effective reporting from silo’d process areas, organizations will have significantly corrected their cross-functional vision issues.
The value of having this organizational “Corrective Vision Surgery” is that they will start seeing and making connections and organizational corrections that otherwise would not get made.
Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org