Dear Del: How do I break down silos and prevent rogue IT?

Dear Del,

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Our organization has several silos in which department members work almost exclusively among themselves, often failing to share information with other groups, including our IT team. Frequently, they’ll engage in projects or make software purchases without any consultation or input, and then expect things to be bolted on seamlessly to our existing infrastructure. This has frequently led to a great deal of frustration throughout the organization and kept our technology pretty much in the dark ages. How can I stop the madness?


The first thing you all seem to need is an overarching technology strategy – hopefully one that maps to the organization’s strategic plan and relates to specific business goals. That should serve as the basis from which all new technology initiatives spring. If they don’t have a place on the plan, there needs to be a strong business case presented as to why they should merit inclusion.

Furthermore, it might help if you set up a forum in which technology issues, ideas, and initiatives can routinely be discussed, debated, and decided. Such a forum should include representation from all facets of the organization; participants can then carry that information back to their respective groups. That way, everybody can congregate on the same page; expectations can be set and managed accordingly.

I don’t kid myself that such silos will ever go away for good, but if people start to realize that it need not be a ‘zero-sum game’ (i.e., I can only win if you lose) then you might foster a more collaborative workplace in which technology can serve everyone’s needs.

For more on aligning IT initiatives with organizational strategy, be sure to read this whitepaper (PDF).