In 1987 there was a small burning tissue at the bottom of an escalator at the Kings Cross subway station in London. Several people working at the station saw it but did nothing to effectively stop it b/c it was not part of their job duties.
The tissue ended up igniting the wooden escalators and a fire started that killed 38 people. It was 48 minutes from the tissue fire to the primary fire – more than enough time to have easily put out the fire and/or evacuate everyone.
This is a perfect example of the “silo effect.” In organizations, people often focus only on their duties and don’t notice potentially serious problems outside of their “silo.” Such problems can escalate and cost an enormous amount of business.
At JVM, we constantly push to avoid the Silo effect by cross-training everyone, and by implementing very generous volume incentives (profit sharing) to make sure everyone is a stake-holder. We also constantly remind everyone to climb out of their silos often (like I am doing with this blog today :).
If you see a problem outside of your duties – please report it and try to fix it as well.
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