By Paul McArthur
Picture yourself in a large hotel conference room, wearing your best ‘dress casual’ attire and sporting a lanyard proudly displaying your name and organization to the hundred or so fellow conference attendees. Like most people here, you travelled far and took time away from work in the hopes of developing new knowledge, insights, and connections to advance your work to make the world a better place. In the afternoon workshop, an important theme emerges: the key actors in the system are operating in ‘silos’ and missing opportunities for synergistic, collective impacts. Inspired by this insight, your workshop team frantically scribbles notes on a flipchart and report back to the larger group: “Working in silos is leading us to approach this challenge inefficiently, ineffectively, and is leaving large gaps for those most in need!” Your report back is received with energetic applause and is affirmed by other participants. After some closing remarks, the conference comes to and end, and you begin your journey back home.
As you return to work the next week, you begin to tackle the mountain of tasks you’ve been putting off while at the conference. You wonder “what will happen to all those great insights we wrote on that flipchart? No time to follow up now, off to the next meeting”. Two weeks later, you have the same reflection and come to this realization: you, a self-described champion of collaboration, have returned to YOUR silo, as have many other champions of change that attended the conference.