There’s rodeo on the weekends, Jimmy,

there’s rodeo for a living,

and then there’s business rodeo.

This here is the business rodeo.

—Rip Wheeler, Yellowstone (Paramount Network)

Taking Down Silos—dealing with bureaucracy

Bureaucracy, silos, and silo-busting is a lot like rodeo.

How so?

Ever hear someone, maybe a colleague or even your manager, just as Rip explains to Jimmy, tell you, “this isn’t my first rodeo.”

They are not naïve or inexperienced; they surely know better and are a genuine professional. 

Bureaucracy, silos, and silo-busting are such a big part of working anywhere in business and government.

Silos, and silo-busting, like rodeo, is nothing new. “It’s always been around”—whether it is a weekend sport—or rodeo for a living or business rodeo.

Exhibitions or contests in winning or losing measuring human-centric change (managing the people side of change) and pivoting on whether leaders, stakeholders, and employees will or will not inconvenience themselves unless forced to.

Because they must face a food-growing dilemma: Mindshare is often as important, if not more so than just Market Share as a Big Footprint. 

Winning or losing is more than just a roundup of cattle on a ranch for branding or counting.

Social Ghettos

Organizations often are “chained in the cave,” with thinking and performing (excluding the subtle nuances of human dynamics), where this thinking and behavior traps (and stomps on) cultural thinking.

Where disaster strikes, when the separation of different types of workers become victims of a grain entrapment incident, where knowledge, skills, and performance (grain or crop) that sustains communities turns into quicksand inside 50-foot silos.

These silos become social ghettos that obstruct leaders, stakeholders, and workers from observing other valid and valuable perspectives.   

Bureaucracy, silos, and silo-busting have rules within them and are deeply embedded in an organization.

Cognitive Kaleidoscope

Bureaucracy, silos, and silo-busting serve a purpose. They give us clarity about workers’ roles and responsibilities. The formal structures, prize money, and awards like winning a rodeo belt buckle—workers often labor within organizations to win or lose in exhibitions or contests.

With competitors, these roughstock events, riding and competing in a go-around (day-money), and the overall prize (or the average) appear as if these partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want. And then they get massively reinforced for it—with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones.

Unfortunately, these organizations are not agile because they are siloed both horizontally and vertically, and often their silo-busting results in them ultimately being thrown in each specific event. Much like Annette Simmons says, where “turf conscious managers can grind genius into gruel.” 

Why and how?

Because as I have discussed elsewhere in this 5-part series, leaders, managers, and employees stay within their respective worlds (cognitive biases, territorial games or sport, tribalism, turf wars, and egotistical mindshare, or not) and communicate exclusively within these worlds.

These competitors have the urge to belong to exclusive groups and affirm their membership by beating other groups. Where the common good means nothing and winning is everything.

However, execution, innovation, prize money, and awards like winning a rodeo belt buckle bank on (zero-sum game) communication (mindshare) that is transparent, moving up-and-down, and across the organization.

Healthier and Worthier Leadership

Contextual intelligence, like it is becoming during this COVID-19 pandemic journey, is about healthier and worthier leadership, coaching, and mentoring employees to make a qualified 8-second ride. Doing so makes sure everyone wins, especially when it comes to winning a rodeo belt buckle.

Awarded for developing a deeper understanding and sensemaking of how contextual intelligence relates to the business of decision-making, leading, and relating to people (diversity and inclusion).

This reality (and winning) requires a new understanding of flexibility, adaptation, and resilience, and vulnerability.

Integrative Thinking

Leaders and managers who run exceptional businesses have one hallmark trait, said Roger L. Martin, Professor Emeritus, at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

In his book, Opposable Mind: winning through integrative thinking. He contends it is the predisposition and capacity where these leaders. Hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads—Without settling for one alternative or the other.

These leaders use a process, integrative thinking—consideration, and synthesis superior to either opposing idea.

When we exploit ideas to construct a new solution, he adds, we capitalize on a built-in advantage over thinkers, who can consider “riding” only one model at a time.

Integrative thinking displays or allows (to be perceived) a way past either-or dilemmas, like silos and turf wars, tunnel vision, and tribalism.

It shows us that there is a way to integrate one solution’s advantages without canceling out (or bucking off) the benefits of an alternative solution.

I continue to observe in work with organizations and government; most innovation often happens between silos in the space between them.

Culture of Trust and Collaboration

It is possible; I have learned through this work with leadership teams and managers, much like it is with families and their members in clinical practice as well, to create an atmosphere (climate), or more importantly, a developing culture of trust and collaboration. 

When the information in these contexts is being shared explicitly or authentically amongst teams and managers, other families, and their members—it is used to create a culture of trust and collaboration.

Collaborative leaders guarantee (a reality, mindshare, and through their personal-accountability and personal-responsibility)—a steady stream of business and market intelligence to pass through multiple teams, to facilitate better decision-making, and to improve agility to make that qualified 8-second ride. Win the prize money. And a rodeo belt buckle.

Tired of Being Bucked Off?

How do we make a concerted effort to forge ties across bureaucratic boundaries that we see in silos and turf wars, tunnel vision, the threat of tribalism, and cognitive biases?

In this entire series, I show you what not to keep doing. How not to keep being bucked off, or breaking the barrier like in rodeo events.

Or, especially, becoming reliant on simplified (or amplified), unrealistic behavior changes for quick consumption (mindset) at boardroom tables.

Like faddish acronymic behavior change models, methodologies, templates, or toolsets, ad nauseam reducing strategies, analyses, reports, or emails to a set of jargon-laced bullet points or “faddish infographics.” 

In which accuracy and detail (nuances of human dynamics) are being pushed aside (or bucked off) for the sake of a marketing segmentation plot, questionable sales pitches (change management licensing solutions, ad nauseam), as ways to fool the gullible. 

Human cognition nor behavior fits elegantly into boxes, categories, or silos. Creating authentic behavior change that sticks is not easy, nor fast, or linear. 

Working harder, not smarter, is easy. Too easy.

So is normalizing the abnormal (it’s still abnormal!).

Managing change (nor change management or OCM) truly is or should be project waterfall. Enough, already!


How’s this managing change or change management or OCM working out?

Not very well, it seems when I talk to hundreds of practitioners, everywhere in the community of practice and thought leadership groups—tunnel vision like silos are trapping; once they snare us.

Most of these practitioners claim they are trapped in situations, predestined to fail from the outset.

Like silos, tunnel vision is about facing a food-growing dilemma: Mindshare is often as important, if not more so than just Market Share as a Big Footprint.

Where mindshare becomes building strategic networks that allow us authentically to scan and sense our environment. 

To detect what the future is (and will) bring, and prepare for it—with human-centric design and human-centric (people side) of managing change, not change management (OCM as the be-all, end-all).

These kinds of strategic networks help you figure out the performance gaps and the opportunity gaps—How to know what your priorities should be? 

What should you be working on?

Building our human-centered design and human-centric (people side) of managing change networks, we must be deliberate and think about who we need to be connected to, both inside and outside our organizations—to understand the opportunities and the challenges that we are facing.

Ask, what are your pain points?

How can I help you get your work done (such as using appreciative inquiryservant leadership)?

This work helps you build the operational networks that empower you and others to genuinely get things done—close gaps, work on authentic priorities.

If people do not trust you, they are certainly not going to help you work on an opportunity gap—Because they have many performance gaps of their own to work on.

As I said, when I opened this 5-part series, workers nor farmers perform in a vacuum nor a silo.

Put a good performer in a bad system, and the system will win every time.”

They will be ridden hard, only to be bucked off, well before the end of an 8-second ride—With no genuine chance at winning the prize money, nor winning one of those rodeo belt buckles.

Our Lady of the Well

It is a dance we do in silence, far below this morning sun

 You in your life, me in mine, we have begun

 Here we stand and without speaking draw the water from the well

 And stare beyond the plains to where the mountains lie so still

But it’s a long way that I have come

 Across the sand, to find this peace among your people in the sun

 Where the families work the land as they have always done

 Oh, it’s so far, the other way my country’s gone

Across my home has grown the shadow of a cruel and senseless hand

 Though in some strong hearts the love and truth remain

 And it has taken me this distance and a woman’s smile to learn

 That my heart remains among them and to them I must return

But it’s a long way that I have come

 Across the sand, to find you here, . . .

—Jackson Browne