The Silo Effect
Why putting everything in its place isn't such a bright idea
By Gillian Tett
The brilliant and insightful new book from Gillian Tett, author of the bestselling FOOL'S GOLD
Ever since civilised society began, we have felt the need to classify, categorise and specialise. It can make things more efficient, and help give the leaders of any organisation a sense of confidence that they have the right people focusing on the right tasks. But it can also be catastrophic, leading to tunnel vision and tribalism. Most importantly it can create a structural fog, with the full picture of where an organisation is heading hidden from view. It is incredibly widespread: the chances are these 'silos' are rife in any organisation or profession, whether your business, or your local school or hospital.
Across industries and cultures, as this brilliant and penetrating book shows, silos have the power to collapse companies and destabilise financial markets, yet they still dominate the workplace. They blind and confuse us, often making modern institutions act in risky, silly and damaging ways.
Gillian Tett has spent years covering financial markets and business, but she's also a trained anthropologist, having completed a doctorate at Cambridge University and conducted field work in Tibet and Tajikistan. She's no stranger to questioning the assumptions and practices of a culture. Those in question - financial trading desks, urban police forces, surgical teams within medical clinics, software debuggers and consumer product engineers - have practices and rituals as ordered and intricate as those of any far-flung tribe.
In The Silo Effect, she uses an anthropological lens to explore how individuals, teams and whole organisations often work in silos of thought, process and product. With examples drawn from a range of fascinating areas - the New York Fire Department and Facebook to the Bank of England and Sony - these narratives illustrate not just how foolishly people can behave when they are mastered by silos but also how the brightest institutions and individuals can master them. The Silo Effect is a sharp, visionary and inspiring work with the insight, prescriptions and power to remove our organisational blinders and transform the way we think for the better.
Gillian Tett is Assistant Editor for the FINANCIAL TIMES where she has worked for fifteen years. In 2008 she won the British Press Award for the Financial Journalist of the Year. She often appears on programmes such as TODAY and NEWSNIGHT and lectures widely.
- Other details
- Publication date:
27 Aug 2015
- Page count:
Engagingly written, this is also a history of our need to classify the world and how that can be our downfall — Hazel Davis, The Times
Here's a piece of advice: read The Silo Effect, if only because your boss may already be immersed in Gillian Tett's latest study on how organisations can go badly awry. You would not want to be caught unawares, now, would you? Also, you might be missing something rather brilliant. Yes, honestly . . . Tett's anthropological approach adds academic rigour and richness' — Anne Ashworth, The Times
A profound idea, richly analyzed — Wall Street Journal (Europe)
Highly intelligent, enjoyable and enlivened by a string of vivid case studies. It is also genuinely important . . . her prescription for curing the pathological silo-isation of business and government is refreshingly unorthodox and, in my view, convincing — Felix Martin, Financial Times
This is not just a business book — The Economist
Gillian Tett is a gifted, innovative and informative writer . . . Tett writes beautifully and her book is full of insights. Those who do not know her work should make up for the oversight — Vince Cable, New Statesman
Supremely wise — Rohan Silva, Evening Standard
Useful for work - and for life — Anne Ashworth, The Times