You Told Them To

“It’s killing us,” Regina complained. “Our silos are killing us.”

“How so?” I asked.

“It’s like there is a little internal competition out there. It started with the blame game. Departmental managers in a meeting, pointing fingers at a problem. Not my fault, everyone said. Then it became CYA behavior. Departments began to build steps into each process to actually shift responsibility for problems to other functions.”

“Why do you think that happened?” I pressed.

“I don’t know,” Regina replied. “There was a time when I thought a little competition was appropriate. It seemed to help everyone perform at a higher level.”

“So what is happening, now that there is a little competition?”

“Our production department cranks up output, while our warehouse department tries to figure out what to do with all the finished goods. The sales department promises delivery with no visibility to purchasing, so we run out of raw materials. Production gets choked off and we run overtime while guys stand around with nothing to do. It’s a mess.”

“Why do you think it happened?” I repeated.

“I don’t know. It was like we just grew up into the problem.”

“You did. You just grew up into the problem. You told everyone to be efficient, no waste, no scrap. You wanted high utilization of precious resources. Each department went internal to re-sequence for that efficiency. It was a noble move and required at the time. Each department manager did it, because you told them to.”

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