I’ve had my own personal experiences with silo mentality right here at Cadorath. Some 25 years ago, when I started in our Aerospace Division it was a silo and, put frankly, not a key money maker.
Back then, we had two (still here) other divisions, Uniflyte, which I will refer to as #1 and Coatings, #2. Everything revolved around those two business units, with Aerospace as the outsider. The newcomers were held under thumb and not allowed to invest much, unless it would benefit those other business divisions (#1 and #2).
However, about 15 years ago things changed a bit. We moved into a bigger building and Aerospace began to grow and make their own place within the whole of our organization. For years, #1 carried Aerospace two quarters of the year. Then, when Aerospace grew and business/customers picked up, Aerospace would even the load by carrying Uniflyte for the other two quarters. It was then that silos started to crumble, even more so when we became Rolls-Royce approved and Aero became more reputable, growing in sales, manpower and machinery — the division almost tripled in size!
Another step forward was when we made a huge change and combined our corporate and finance team into a common building, thereby breaking down further walls of those silos.
While continuing, it became clear that, internally, Aerospace had created their own silo or two. This was due to many contributing factors, one being the sheer size it had become and all the different departments within the whole of that one operation. The grind shop, machine shop and CNC department broke out product lines within their departments, each, for the most part, being high-turn product lines. As the groups were focusing their attention on the high turnovers, that left work on the slower movers pushed to last. Everyone was wanting to work on the high movers and unwilling to handle all parts equal. It was through a lean event that management realized what we had done to ourselves. So, we restructured our shop floor, we eliminated unnecessary processes and removed barriers between our people. Further, we ensured our team was working on all parts and no longer component specific. We recognized that communication was poor all through the lines from the machinist – to customer care – to production manager – right down to director of operations. So, again, we broke down the walls and changed the flow, moving everyone central and thereby effectively creating our fishbowl.
Today we have facilities in Orion, USA, Lafayette, USA and Winnipeg, Canada, each run under different managements and shops. However, we make it a continuing mission to take preventative measures and keep our communications open to all. It is not only one person’s finding on a matter, it is a group decision to the main stakeholders.
Once lines of communication are opened right up, silos dissolve themselves to the benefit of more than just those within our own walls. With all being on the same page and allowance of bigger lines of exchange, our customers benefit first and foremost. Further, products move faster and more efficiently — all while quality and turn times continually improve.
The company today is a million times further ahead than we were those many years ago. Not without hiccups along the way. Change takes time, change takes effort and change takes patience, but worth it in the long run.
So, begin by opening those lines of communication. Encourage people to come forward with their thoughts, allow employees to vocalize their opinions and speak their minds. By doing these things and adopting a share it attitude, you will start to break down barriers.
Director of Business Development