In the beginning of this summer I participated at an event in Stockholm by the name ‘Webbdagarna CMO Summit’.  It was an interactive and engaging day with people working with mainly digital questions in marketing departments on a wide range of companies. One of the main themes during the day was to identify the top ten questions on the CMO agenda.  We thought this was very interesting, so I will jointly with my colleagues share our thoughts and answers to these ten questions by ten blog posts.
The first question identified was one that I blogged about earlier this year,  so I thought that might be a good starting point.

How do we avoid working in silos between departments?

My previous thoughts on the subject in Business and IT – a love story in the making are still very much relevant.  In fact, many of them were validated during this event where the most important parts of breaking up and avoiding silos are:

  • Gather cross functional teams from the start.
  • Make the team responsible by setting up their own goals.
  • Lower the obstacles for these teams.
  • Encourage creativity from all team members.

At the round table discussion which I had the privilege to facilitate, these points were all mentioned in some way. Some referred to them as ‘problems’.  For example, one that captures the essence of all of them and seems fairly common – was described as:
“Management gives us some vision that we’re all supposed to work for. But the problem is that IT then has their own goals, budgets and KPIs that they are measured on-  whilst we in marketing have a completely different set of numbers.”
So then the question is – whose goals get the most focus?  To look good at the end of the year the closest manager tends to focus more on their own department’s goals than on the overall common goal.
Now that we understand that the areas mentioned in the bullet points above, are in fact important in order to succeed in our digital journey and the necessity of breaking down silos, it’s time to stress the importance of proper engagement from management.  It was mentioned by many at the event and has been pointed out before by Capgemini.  Taking away all the digital transformation stuff,  it boils down to a cultural question of how and why we work in a certain way and it will be difficult if not impossible for persons without the proper mandate to do something about breaking down the silos in which the departments tend to work.
To put it more simply, without the head, the digital chicken will just run around in circles.