Review – Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

Updated: Jul 6, 2019


In this book, Patrick Lencioni talks about the silos that are formed in organizations and how to address them. As always, he introduces the concepts in a “fable” form and then follows it up with a couple of chapters on the actual theory portion of it. The fable is relatively fun to read.

Patrick Lencioni has written a number of books – Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting, Three Signs of a Miserable Job etc – and these follow the “fable” format. The format has the advantage of keeping the reader’s attention through a story while introducing the ideas that form the crux of that book.


Patrick Lencioni’s basic premise is that people come together during a crisis. Hence, he talks about the need for a rallying cry (“Thematic Goal”) that will make people in various silos understand the bigger picture and hence break down barriers towards working with each other. The “Thematic Goal” needs to be somewhere between the vision and tactical goals.  Along with the “Thematic Goal”, he also stresses the importance of having “Defining Objectives” (breaking down the Thematic Goals into actionable chunks) and “Standard Operating Objectives” that basically are the BAU goals. He suggests following the Defining Objectives whenever any meeting happens to figure out priorities and use it as a benchmark to avoid behaviour arising from silos. He is quite clear on the fact that silos arise at the top i.e. the executive level and that change needs to begin there.

There are numerous examples and case studies he mentions in the book. I will use one as an example. He talks about a Gym Equipment company which is under fire because a local celebrity suffered an accident while using their equipment. Initially, they are unable to respond due to the various blame games being played within their organization and outside. However, once the CEO figures out that there needs to be a coherent response, the team rallies together. The Thematic Goal that has been identified is – “Change the public’s perception about our equipment in 6 months”. Since the entire organization is rallying behind this goal, ideas are forthcoming from all employees. Some Defining Objectives include – “Settle the case asap”, “Run an Awareness Campaign”, “Draw up better installation procedures” etc. Each of these defining objectives essentially give rise to multiple ideas that are implemented.

I found Lencioni’s treatment to be quite one-dimensional in that, it addresses only one kind of behaviour that leads to silos. But I think people will interested to apply this in client situations where there are politics etc to see the effectiveness of these suggestions and where they tend to work best


Pass on reading this book. I would suggest reading Lencioni’s other books – Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting etc as they cover similar topics.




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