Problem with silos or why we should seek out opportunities to work across many communities

by Pawel Rzeczkowski

In the beginning:

Growing up in Poland I was aware of the existence of other countries, but because I was living in a national silo, I just did not have much interaction with them.

When I began studying finance at an US university, my school administrator was perplexed by my odd requests for permissions to take classes in other silos of the university, like mathematics, philosophy or music. Why, she asked? It is not required.

Later, I joined a global company in their finance organizational silo. My coworkers in the finance silo and I laughed at the crazy marketing people, who within their silo had no concept of the industry. We laughed at the entitled front line employees, because only we in the finance silo knew what was really going on. But even within the finance silo there were even smaller choice constraining silos. The Newly minted MBAs joining my team were complaining that we are not giving them enough work that fits into the MBA work type silo. Many were making themselves unhappy because of that silo mindset.

We all were growing up and being indoctrinated into a silo world without even realizing it. That, however, will not be the world of our kids. We are experiencing a massive structural change in our social and economic structures. And this will change everything.

Paradigm shift to networked world:

This evolution in psychology and cultural behavior of the society is not a random move but a point on a long continuum. With the onset of the scientific revolution towards the end of the Renaissance, we have systematically started discovering and classifying the world. It has benefited us greatly. By the time I was born in the 70’s, almost everything was squarely organized by the society into its proper boxes stacked up in silos. These technologies and innovations brought about change in sentiment and after the summer of love and Woodstock in the 60‘s, the social changes reverberated on into the early 1970s. However, the idea and movement of the Age of Aquarius and the associated change in values and structures was sadly premature for the world was not yet ready. That revolution is only happening now with social media and 24/7 collaborative connectivity at the forefront, blurring the lines of the tired old silos.

During my years in the university setting, I started realizing that I do not fit into the silo world. I loved architecture and finance equally but there was no choice to study both simultaneously. “You have to pick one. Why?”, I asked. I picked finance. Later at work I was advised against moving out of finance to different silos. In order not to go crazy in my silo, I channeled my creativity to studying world history and arts, traveling around the world visiting museums in my spare time.

During my MBA, I discovered that I am not the only crazy one, that there are accomplished professors who also see the silos as a problem. I will never forget when Prof. Jeffrey Sachs came to the Business school to introduce his earth institute project.

As it turns out, our world of silos is a major obstacle to problem solving. When we need to solve worlds big problems or when we need to get small companies off the ground, we need to reach out to other communities and find a way to work together. Professor Sachs was explaining that even within the same university it is a massive challenge for the business, engineering and say health sciences to find a common language to communicate across their self-contained specialized silo nomenclature. Just the communication is a challenge. That is why profesor Sachs created the earth institute.

How we are helping:

At RareBridge we agree with Professor Sachs. Collaboration across various communities of interests and specializations is what’s needed to create the innovation to solve our world’s problems. It is also needed to get many small companies off the ground. We believe that it is not only fun to go across the lines, it is the fundamental driver of innovation. That is why we are creating a platform where a cross community of enterprising experts can find a way to collaborate and find each other to solve the little and the big problems. Come check us out.

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