“No silo”: Steve Jobs and Elon Musk’s mastery principles of governance, what makes a breakthrough at Apple and Tesla
- Tram Ho
A few years ago, when Elon Musk sent an email reminding all Tesla employees, few thought that this simple message from Musk was a strategy to help him thrive the company.
From a novice entering the car manufacturing field, Tesla gradually rose to compete on par with its competitors, the giants that have dominated the market for decades.
Despite having much more modest sales than Toyota, in July 2020, Tesla officially overtook the Japanese automaker to become the most valuable car company in the world with $ 208 billion. That’s what Toyota did before General Motors in 1996.
” Obviously we can’t compete with the big car companies on the scale, so we need to do it with intelligence and agility ,” Musk wrote.
But how to become smarter and more agile than the competition? Musk emphasized that Tesla must exploit a weakness that any company that grows to a certain size will suffer: internal division.
Tesla had to resist the internal tendency to divide
” Managers should work hard to make sure they don’t create holes in the company. It’s what gives birth to the mentality of us and others, or in any way that will hinder communication. between departments and employees within the company , “Musk said.
He describes that most of the major companies so far have split into divisions, each with a manager and managers with managers above them. When an employee (A) discovers a problem and needs to talk to an employee (B) in another department to resolve it, employee (A) must speak to his line manager first.
This manager then has to talk to senior management again. Senior management then talks to their counterpart in another department where employee (B) works below. Then the senior management in another department talked to the subordinates. Subordinate managers manage directly then talk to employees (B).
Thus, employee (B) took a long time to approach the problem. Then, when he started to deal with it, he needed to talk back to employee (A). And the information once again took a detour back.
Musk said he would fire any managers at Tesla for this to happen, let alone encourage or force his subordinates to report to him first.
” Anyone at Tesla can, and should, email / talk to anyone else if they think it’s the fastest way to solve the problem, for the sake of the whole company. You can talk. with your manager without his permission.
You can talk directly to a vice president in another department, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission. Furthermore, you should consider yourself to be obligated to do so until the right thing happens, ” Musk wrote.
Internal division is something that any company on the path of thriving will encounter, Musk admits. But Tesla will choose to fight it positively.
“We are all on the same boat. So always tell yourself that you are working for the benefit of the company, not for the sake of the department where you are working.” .
“No silo”: The principle that Steve Jobs helped save Apple from the brink of bankruptcy
Interestingly, before Elon Musk, Steve Jobs when he was born encouraged a similar philosophy at Apple. And it was this philosophy that not only saved them from bankruptcy in 1997, but also helped Apple soon beat Sony in the personal music player market with a new product Steve called “a thousand songs in your pocket “ . Those are the iPods.
Before the iPod was introduced, the personal music player market was dominated by the Sony Walkman. The Japanese company was then a huge group dominating the market, owning their own music company and patents by Walkman. There’s no reason for Sony not to be the king of the mobile music market.
But like every other giant empire on its way to greatness, Sony has weaknesses that are putting them in stagnation.
“Their entire group was then being organized into divisions (the word itself had a disturbing meaning). Each of their divisions then had its own set of criteria and mission. “It is very difficult for Sony to push all of the divisions to work together to achieve the greatest overall power , “ explained Walter Isaacso in his biography of Steve Jobs.
In front of such a giant, Steve chose a strategy called the ” no silo ” principle – meaning no clumping. ” Silo ” describes isolation that occurs when employees or all parts of the organization do not want or have the means to share information or knowledge with each other.
To avoid that, ” Jobs didn’t organize Apple into semi-automatic divisions; he tightly controlled all of his teams and pushed them to operate as a cohesive company. There is only one: profit or loss , “writes Isaacso.
Not only cannot Sony not do this, but their own parts are also afraid of ” eating ” each other. For example, Sony is afraid of developing a new music player like the iPod, which could encourage users to share digital music with each other. The reason is that if that happens, Sony’s recorders and record labels will be severely damaged.
Steve Jobs, on the other hand, declared that a company should not be afraid of eating itself. ” Because if you don’t eat your own parts, there’s another company that does it, ” Jobs said.
Why should you apply the ” no silo” principle in your organization?
The stories of Tesla and Apple show that incorporating the “no silo” principle into the company’s growth strategy has helped them achieve success. “No silo ” is essentially a principle based on emotional intelligence – the ability to make emotions work for you, rather than against you.
And it can also help your organization.
Like farm silos, which are helping farmers separate and separate different grains, the ” silo ” in a business is bringing together specialized staff or working in the same department. in the same place, separating them from the parts of the other ” silos ” or groups.
While each component is working effectively as a well-lubricated machine, one would think this is an obvious plus for the entire business. However, when employees in one department do not interact effectively with employees in the other, business can begin to suffer, resulting in loss of revenue and even division wars. parts.
The formation of ” silos ” or separate groups within a company is seen as a failure of leadership. Like the chain of reports from Employee A to Employee B that Musk used at Tesla, the silo bottleneck is usually in the middle, on the top leadership team.
Its manifestations can be seen in a meeting of the top leaders in the organization. Tracking interactions between members of the leadership team will often reveal the silos- generating behaviors within the company and how those silos are evolving.
Once the ” silo ” takes shape, it will create the mentality of us and others, my department and other divisions, as Musk said. Loopholes that prevent communication between departments and employees within the company will emerge.
Leadership and employees then develop loyalty only to a particular group or part of the company, rather than towards loyalty to the company in general and to the president.
As ” silos ” exist, employees become distrustful and distrustful of other departments, making it increasingly difficult for teams to work together. Sharing of information will be delayed.
We can see this clearly in the meetings, where members in each group are very careful about what they share, reluctant to actually participate in debates and in general they don’t appear to be. What is communication.
Regrettably, the tendency to form silos, increase internal division, and division has always been associated with the growth of every organization. Whether accidentally or intentionally, all parts of the company will have a competitive mentality, sometimes they even come back, point spears to harm each other.
How can you counter this trend?
By applying the ” no silo” principle. Encourage each level of management in your company to see the big picture and work for the company’s common interests instead of the parts they manage.
You can do this through an email, just like Elon Musk. Or you can do it by reorganizing the company and modeling yourself, holding and running different groups like Steve Jobs.
There are many ways to do this, for example, every time you bring together a team to work on a project, assign members of different departments to work together. If it’s a marketing project, include at least one additional member from the product, design, finance, operations – and vice versa.
It is also a good idea to try to strengthen the roles of each team member or cross-train staff members in different departments. Create feedback loops to help individuals understand how their team’s work affects the work of other teams.
This will help each employee think more critically, they will understand that the whole company is working together and that they can develop ways to use resources in this area to solve problems in the field. other areas.
If you’re working in a team and you or your colleague has a tough problem, share it. Ask for help. Specifically, ask those who work outside of your department who will help you see beyond your limited vision and drive innovative thinking.
Of course, the “no silo ” principle only works if you can involve everyone in the organization. So make sure you – and the other leaders in the company – are setting an example for that.
Each level of management in the company must ask themselves questions and answer them:
– Am I seeing the big picture in my organization and team?
– Am I encouraging dissenting opinions and opinions? Do I reward an employee for giving authentic feedback, even if they don’t mean what I mean?
– Can I show empathy by taking my employees’ problems seriously – and actively helping them find solutions?
– Do I foster an environment that encourages growth, even if it means I could (sometimes) lose a great employee into another team, another department or even one another company?
Finally, corporate reward mechanisms should not only focus on high performers, but also on those supporting others to achieve those highs. Like a player when scoring can not forget the person with the assist.
And in order for employees to be willing to help and support rather than just compete, help them remember one and only one principle common to the company: We are all sitting on the same boat, how to let that boat go forward, all will benefit properly and vice versa.
See Inc, Forbes, Stanford
Source : Genk