Tearing Down Siloes… Does Everything Need to Fall in a Box?

9 10 2007

Confining ideas, limiting communication, and drawing boundaries leads to the death of innovation.

The world of academia, with the exception of a few truly innovative programs, is a huge convoluted mess of bureaucracy. Marketing students can’t take PR classes because they reside in another department, and vice-versa. For you students that have dealt with these kinds of frustrations, I’m sorry to say, but the professional world isn’t much different. In fact often times it can be worse with managers fighting to fund their fiefdoms and brands fighting – like a middle child – for attention from the parent company.

In the advertising industry, the standard-bearer of creativity, siloing is as prevalent as it was 20 years ago, but they are very good at splashing on a fresh coat of paint and slapping on a couple stickers that say 360 degree integration. You will most likely walk into an office for your big interview and you will walk past rows of open desks with not a single cubicle in sight, with creatives tossing around a football, and an agency pet in the corner. You could be lucky and have walked into a truly cutting edge agency like Anomaly, StrawberryFrog, or Naked – Good going! However, more than likely your at an agency under the umbrella of one of the large holding companies.

This is also not a terrible outcome either, just be aware and don’t get pigeoned holed.

The keys to success in today’s world are flexibility, creativity, and a large varied skill set. Step outside your box, your comfort zone, be curious, and explore new ideas.

Advertising is at its core the study of people and why they do what they do.

Thus nothing is irrelevant.

No one is really to blame for this current predicament as we are taught from day one to learn specific skills, to pass tests, and get good grades (They really don’t matter much in the real world). We are taught to specialize, specialize, specialize.


Because that’s how our brains function. We need neat little boxes to fit everything into. We are the ones that developed nested hierarchies, the Dewey Decimal System, and defined the roles of Account Managers, Planners, and Creatives. Now this system is great for storing and retrieving information, but it stifles creativity by limiting eureka moments. If you continually store and retrieve information in the same way you will never have a fresh perspective on a problem. I’m not suggesting throwing out all the information systems we can crafted, just juggle it around every so often. Question why we put things in certain places. If you found this interesting here’s a great book that explores this concept: Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger.




One response

12 11 2007
Building the Anti-Siloing Case with Meeting Miser « THE AD-VOCATE

[…] addressed the issues surrounding siloing a number of times on this blog from varying perspectives; however, when it comes down to it, siloing causes inefficiency, which in turn costs $$$. Anyone […]

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