• Register
Return to: Home > Comments > A radical approach to break down the silos is born

A radical approach to break down the silos is born

By instinct and background I am an entrepreneur. It is in my nature to be involved in creative, flexible environments where decisions can be made and acted upon quickly. In my most recent role at the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), I have spent the the last two years travelling the world talking about more connected, cohesive business practice - what we call Integrated Thinking.

While on my travels, I find myself coming back, time and time again, to the words written by the poet John Donne: "no man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main". We all know of businesses/organizations that, having grown organically or through acquisition, have struggled to break down the internal silos that exist between different operating units. There are many problems with silos, key among them is that they breed inefficiency and duplication of effort, make it hard to spot risks and almost impossible to have one coherent strategy. Read a selection of annual reports and you will quickly see my point: often they appear to be the story of four or five different businesses, rather than the chapters of a single book.

Persuading businesses to buy-in to the concept of Integrated Reporting is really dependent on them 'getting' this point about silos. As the World Economic Forum pointed out in its 2014 Global Risks report, the risks our economic and business environment face today are not isolated to one country or sector. The nature of globalization means that we are facing interconnected risks such as financial instability and climate change. At a business level this presents huge challenges - but one way of tackling them is to bring some coherence to the management of the organization so that it speaks with one voice and one strategy.

But what of the IIRC itself? I thought I had built a creative, flexible environment - and certainly one without silos! But looking back, I too was unable to avoid creating teams who worked only to their own objectives. For 2014, we have therefore decided to do something radical. We are starting the New Year with a new IIRC. We are breaking down the silos and empowering the 30 or so people who work for the IIRC all around the world, creating a 'flat matrix'. It feels like the right thing to do. The people are in place, and I want them to take the reins and help me to lead us through this next exciting phase in our evolution.

To move us onto this new environment, in January we held a two day session, which brought together all members of our international secretariat to dissect and brainstorm how this 'matrix' might work. We discussed what we are going to do in 2014 and how we are going to do it.

What are the challenges and how will we overcome them? Will it work? Will this new culture and a flatter structure help us to achieve our strategic goals? I think it is only right to share this tale with you over the coming months, but you'll have to come back next time to hear the next chapter. To be continued...

Paul's previous blog post

Integrate: Doing Business in the 21st Century, IIRC welcomes major milestones

Top Content

    ARGA team, assemble!

    The new top team has been named that will see in root-and-branch reform at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) as it transforms into the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). Will the new duo be as dynamic as some are hoping? Robin Amlôt reports.

    read more

    FASB: a quest for simpler standards

    FASB chair Russell Golden addressed the IMA 2019 Annual Conference and Expo at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, California, on 18 June. IMA immediate former chair-emeritus Alex Eng acted as moderator. Joe Pickard reports.

    read more

    The future of audit, and how to get there

    Two recent reports peer into the future of the audit profession. One analyses what an audit should offer, while the other looks at how the audit process will be carried out. Robin Amlôt takes a closer look at both.

    read more

    EFAA elects new president, focuses on digital future

    EFAA’s new president, Salvador Marin, outlined his key priorities for the next two years at the organisation’s 2019 annual general meeting, while outgoing president Bodo Richardt offered advice. Robin Amlôt reports.

    read more
Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.