Here's the problem: Our jobs are complex and interdependent, but our goals, objectives, and, most importantly, mindsets, are often siloed.
We each have a job to do - sell a service, design a product, address a customer issue - and the underlying mindset is: if I do my job well, and you do your job well, we'll achieve our organization's goals.
But it rarely works that way. People in one silo often have information needed by - but never given to - people in another silo. If there's a problem anywhere in the organization, everyone fails. In other words - and this might be hard to swallow - we are responsible for each others' work.
This is not a question of blame. It's a practical reality of collaboration. And every organization of two or more is a collaborative effort.
How do we escape the silo mentality?
It helps if leadership is explicit about the cross-silo outcomes that are most important in the organization. It helps if everyone who works at the restaurant is clear that satisfying customers is their number one priority and that everyone is collectively responsible for that outcome. It helps if each person is committed to a whole that is larger than their part and if leaders communicate, prioritize, and reward for that outcome.
It also helps if the organization's structures and processes support collaboration. If people meet regularly to share what they are learning and are taught the skills to give and receive feedback. It helps if people are taught to communicate clearly, gently, and inoffensively with each other, avoiding blame and embarrassment, for the sake of cross-silo outcomes.
All that helps. But even with all that support, direction, and skill, it still takes one more critical ingredient. Perhaps the most critical.
The courage of a single person willing to take personal risks for the sake of the organization's success.
Because no matter how clearly leaders reward cross-silo outcomes, it takes great personal strength to identify and help correct a mistake in "someone else's" silo and to overcome the fear of the consequences of taking responsibility for colleagues' work.