Words-worth - Silo

Does your company operate 'silos'? Do people have a 'silo mentality'? Can you do anything about 'siloing'?

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

All fascinating questions, and not only in agri-business. A 'silo' in those circles is a chamber for storing grain and other produce. It's a venerable word, dating back to the Ancient Greeks, who kept their corn in a pit known as a siros. But as a business buzzword, 'silo' has a more distant connection with that bucolic world. To have a 'silo mentality' is to keep things separate, particularly business units or teams. These business 'silos' are vertical units, with their own budgets and hierarchies, and are generally frowned upon. There is a connection with agriculture, but this usage has more sinister origins. Since the late 1950s, a 'silo' has been an underground structure used to house a guided missile, particularly the nuclear kind. These are hardened, costly, destructive and remote enough from each other to make their removal difficult. You can see why 'silos' are not always seen as conducive to good management.

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