How to Move From Silos to Success

Written by Scott Oser on October 5, 2017

We live in a silo industry.

Do you remember the last time you put heads together with someone from a different department to share ideas about an internal pain point? Do you wish you had opportunities to do it more? Often, working together across disciplines generates insight greater than the sum of its parts.

This issue is particularly pressing in the case of non-dues revenue, a hot topic for all associations today. To make the best of new opportunities for partnerships in your industry, the communal “hive” mind of the whole association must be on board.

Transform internal culture

Tackling silos is a question of internal association culture. Problems arise when individuals and teams have incentive to work only on their own projects, in a manner verging on competitive, without consulting staff across the hall or on the floor above. Staff want and need opportunities to work together to fulfil the association’s common goals.

Association leaders can take an active role in bringing together their staff for the best results, for example by creating a cross-departmental group to review a new product offered by an industry partner. Everyone brings their unique expertise and everyone is kept in the loop.

Transform overall culture

So, staff and corporate partners have got together to create exciting non-dues revenue projects. While we’re at it, why not bring in the board as a source of industry knowledge, trends and needs? What about the volunteers, and the members? Instead of treating the various arms of your association like independent parts of the same machine, think of them as interconnecting cogs which turn smoothest when fitted together.

The board has specific knowledge and years of experience to bring to the table. The members themselves know what causes them the most hassle, and their input can be channeled by an empathetic marketing team into offering products that will remedy their problems, whether that’s a how-to guide for a new software program, better in-person networking opportunities, or opportunities for publication in an industry magazine.

Make projects stand out from the crowd

When it comes to non-dues revenue, silo culture translates into projects being developed in various departments with a total lack of communication between them. This creates a barrage of disconnected offerings from an association and their industry partners, instead of streamlined, coherent output.

Imagine the familiar situation of going to the grocery store for toothpaste and seeing fifty varieties with little distinction between the brands. How likely are you to walk out feeling confident you’ve bought the best toothpaste for your needs? Not very! This is what it feels like for members overwhelmed by too many overlapping products and services offered by your organization through different departments or individuals.. Members are busy professionals with no time to sift through irrelevant offerings.

By collaborating across departments in your association you can create targeted non-dues revenue projects and have greater success when you present them to your receptive audience.

The key to successful non-dues revenue projects lies in a collaborative association culture.

We’re all working towards the same cause, after all.

Has this piqued your interest? Is it part of a conversation you are eager to continue? On November 9th, Scott will be speaking on this subject at SURGE 2017, a free virtual summit running from 7th-9th November, designed to foster collaborative innovation. Learn more, and register your place at the summit.