I originally drew a version of this cartoon back in 2003 and I decided to redraw it from scratch in color. 16 years later, it’s still one of my more frequently licensed cartoons. I think that speaks to the ever-present challenge of breaking out of organizational silos.
I saw a study referenced by Salesforce recently (but couldn’t find the original source) that found that 70% of executives view “silo mentality” as the biggest obstacle to improving the customer experience.
Our point of view is heavily shaped by the department where we’re sitting. The risks we see and the priorities we follow are all guided by how we view the business from our place in it. All of those definitions are true, but all of them are limited.
I think that part of the marketing job is to make an effort to speak the different languages of everyone else in the organization and to champion the most the most important point of view — that of the customer. Marketers are best placed to inject the customer vantage point throughout the organization.
Some of the more valuable moments of my marketing career were when I managed to get out of the marketing ivory tower and spend extended time in each of those different functions: making sales calls, trying to write code for a software prototype, wearing a hardhat (and a hairnet) in an ice cream factory at 4 in the morning for a new flavor startup. All of these helped break me out of my own silo thinking.
The path of least resistance is to stay in our silos.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: