Are the roots of business silos to be found in our schools? Perhaps the UK asks students to specialise as early as anywhere, but most countries have a system that requires choices quite early. The problem is not so much the chosen specialism as what is lost. I have been wondering if this contributes to the comfort zones so many of us like to inhabit.
In my opinion, the real value of an Asset Management Professional will be to integrate (or instigate and help integrate) properly the activities needed to help an organisation perform. This means not only being comfortable with a range of disciplines (and their typical mind-sets) but also interpreting and helping people to value different contributions.
Such professionals need to be able to address investment decisions whether the asset is a pump or a group of companies.
But why are such functional departments (silos) and disciplines so different and sometimes actually dismissive of each other? Why do we not always see the value of each other’s contributions? How does a promoted manager or executive view those managers in silos he or she used not to value? Could it be that prejudice sets in very early in life?
I hear similar stories from academia. Even in places of learning and efforts to research or develop new thinking, we can find sometimes bitter and destructive ‘warfare’. From a distance this is surprising but, perhaps, simply demonstrates the tribal nature of humans? Is it inevitable that budding engineers and scientists are separated from artists and linguists at colleges and universities; and that the higher salaries of finance and law further distinguish those groups as tribes which struggle to ‘play nicely together’ in order to make organisations effective?
The European Baccalaureate is an example of successful attempts to avoid specialisation too early, and I believe similar systems are in use around the world. But I think we need a greater perspective still. Inevitably, unless people are to spend ever longer in education before entering the job market, people will have to specialise to some extent. We need to find ways to bring these useful specialists together as teams and I believe that the broad understanding across that comes from a study of asset management can help.
As E. M. Forster once said: “Only connect…”