Breaking down silos

A recent episode of the Natteron podcast included a discussion about how people who work in different services, or different departments, within large public sector organisations can communicate and collaborate better and more openly. Or in other words, how to break down silos.

Team-messaging app Slack was mentioned, and Ben Proctor made a bold assertion:

“By the end of this year you’ll be able to classify local authorities as good or bad according to whether they use Slack or not.”

I followed this up on Twitter, which led to further insights from both Ben and Esko Reinikainen. I was still thinking about this when the 2016 UKGovcamp came along, so I pitched a session on breaking down those silos.

It turned out to be my favourite session at UKGovcamp. And I don’t say that because it was ‘my’ session. I didn’t have to do much other than light the fuse and make sure everyone who wanted to had the chance to contribute to the discussion. In fact, that’s what made it such a good session. That so many people had something to say, and it was such a varied debate.

Most of the excellent discussion is summarised in the live Google doc from the session and in the tweets in this Storify story.

These are a few of my take aways from the session:

  • Tools like Slack or Yammer work when there is a specific need, a tangible benefit to using them
  • Slack alone is not a fixer of culture, but can help to highlight the shortcomings of an existing culture
  • Everything in its right place – Slack shouldn’t be a data security risk if it’s used right
  • I now know what Conway’s Law is.
  • Leadership can come from anywhere in an organisation
  • Unconference such as UKGovcamp, LocalGovCamp and Commscamp are brilliant, and pitching a session when you have more questions than answers is actually a really good idea.

The two other sessions at UKGovcamp I thought were particularly good were:

Now, my personal challenge is to keep thinking about all this and not let the inspiring day become a distant memory, as I get back to work at Bradford Council. That shouldn’t be too difficult, as I can already think of a couple of pieces of work where I feel our culture would be ready for Slack.


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I am a digital communications and marketing officer for Bradford Council and a musician.

5 thoughts on “Breaking down silos”

  1. Hmm. I find it hard to envisage that the answer consists in one more piece of software giving one more reason to be staring at a screen. Surely coffee mornings is the answer. And sufficient staff with time to attend them. Pie in the sky, I know.

  2. Pingback: Slacking Off

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