To solve big and complex problems it helps to break them into smaller manageable pieces. Much of agile technical practices and process methodology is concerned with establishing a body of tried and tested pathways to achieve modularity. The very premise of autonomous teams pre-supposes that there are separate parts of a solution that can be built within cohesive boundaries without affecting other parts.
These boundaries actually represent silos. When they are designed and implemented correctly, they are an integral part of maintaining the integrity of a solution.
The problem is that somewhere along the line we began to use “silo” as a swear word that represents anti-collaborative and team-destroying behavior. In so doing, we have unfairly ascribed our failure to build effective interfaces across healthy boundaries to the boundaries themselves. Consequently, we have torn down necessary walls and compromised the value of our solutions.
So how do we (re?)build the right walls and guard them against wilful demolition? How do we know when it’s time to collaborate and when it’s time to stay in our lanes? We need to design cohesive silos that autonomously provide the outcomes we truly need.