The human body provides a powerful metaphor which explodes the folly of silo thinking. The human body contains millions of diverse functions which operate within one interconnected, unified whole for the benefit of all of its members. Because all of the parts function in an interdependent and mutually supporting manner, the necessary outcome is the mutual health of the entire body. Just think how absurd it would be if the foot were to declare, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body.” Would it be any less illogical for a silo sales department to announce, “Because I am not the operations department, I am not a part of the entire corporation?”
There are many departments in a corporation, just as there are many systems that comprise the human body. The body and a corporation each represent the concept of a unified, interdependent whole, composed of many different parts that will not function properly without the support of the other parts. So one part can’t say to the other, “I have no need of you.” If the human body were nothing but one gigantic eyeball, how could there be any sense of hearing? If the whole body were one huge ear, how could there be any sense of smell? Clearly, if all the parts of the human body were exactly the same, the organism would be utterly incapacitated; it could not function as a body.
In the very same way, if the whole corporation was nothing but one accounting department, how could there be any marketing? If the whole organization was one marketing department, how could there be any Human Resource function? As with the human body, if all the different departments within an organization were identical with respect to their function, it would be impossible to operate as a profitable corporation. Therefore, the diversity of form and function is essential for healthy life and operation!
Let me draw one final point from the human body: if there are no parts of the body that are “redundant systems”— i.e., unnecessary for the overall operation of the body—in the very same way there are no departments within a corporation that should be regarded as insignificant to the success of the entire organization. The attitude that there are “Big I’s” and “Little You’s” in a company should never be tolerated. The first sparks of silo rivalries and adversarial activities must be immediately extinguished. The prevailing thought must be that there are only Big People in Big Places serving a Big Purpose! Every member of the organization should highly esteem every other individual as powerful purpose partners, who are vital to the successful, sustainable outcomes of the company.