This is an article written by Chris Warren, a Public Interest Fellow with Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2007-08. While the article is almost 3 years old the ideas are as relevant today as they were then.
Hey everyone! So I recently read this article about the dangers about what the author terms, "organizational silos" and how they impede innovation. He approaches it from a very corporate perspective, but I think that this concept of "organizational silos" is very important to understand in order to facilitate the collaboration we're aiming for with the Tutor/Mentor Connection. We here at the Tutor/Mentor Connection agree with this article in stating that "As a system, innovation is collaborative, multidisciplinary and requires diverging viewpoints and experiences. It is also inclusive, and it is about bridging and extending linkages and interactions to build something that is greater than its parts. Organizational silos are barriers to innovation. They impede collaboration and communication outside of an organization and come in a variety of flavors, including:
Geographical Silos- which stem from difficulty in adequately sharing information and collaborating when different parts of an organization are in different geographical locations
Project Silos- which occur when best practice information isn't shared between groups working in similar ways towards similar goals
Functional Silos- which arise when there is uncertainty about peoples' roles within an organization and lead to redundancy and feelings of underappreciation among members
Technology Silos- which occur when technology isn't or cannot be shared among members of an organization
As you can see from the above graphic (which you should click to view in full), the Tutor/Mentor Connection aims to be a pipeline for ensuring that at-risk youth receive the extra support they need to stay on-track throughout their formative years and enter careers by the age of 25.
We believe that volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are the bridges that connect volunteers, donors and business leaders with the children, families and schools on the other side of the socioeconomic divide. We hope to connect these stakeholders through an ongoing, dynamic exchange of ideas, and ultimately to improve the availability and quality of tutor/mentor programs throughout the world.
However as you can see, these different groups of people, each of whom plays a role in ensuring these children succeed, are from a diverse set of sectors and organizations, many of whom have very minimal contact with each other. Therefore, one of our largest challenges is to break down the barriers, or organizational silos, that separate these different groups and bring them together under the common umbrella of ensuring these kids' success. Since the tutor/mentor connection is the sum of its constituent members, in discussing how to break-down or avoid the types of silos I just mentioned, it is helpful to conceive of all of these distinct groups and concepts as comprising the Tutor/Mentor Connection itself and not to consider the Tutor/Mentor Connection a standalone program like Cabrini Connections, our tutor/mentor program, because it is not.
In order to tear down these silos and create an environment where innovation and collaboration can flourish, the author suggests a multi-pronged approach, which I believe we have already been implementing to various degrees. The prongs include: