From Boardroom to Classroom: More Collaboration Buzz

I wouldn’t presumebighappybee to cross into the world of business & finance  and start telling them how to get their act together. While I mostly don’t value the influx of business perspectives into education,  certain ideas make great metaphors for educators to think about.

Evan Rosen’s piece in the February 5 Business Week online edition is one example. Rosen writes about the power of collaboration in his piece “Smashing Silos: Five steps to encourage collaboration and do away with insular business units acting at cross-purposes.

I did a little creative tweaking to turn Rosen’s marketing ideas into a perfect activity for Show & Tell. All you have to do is make a few substitutions.

  • Substitute the word “school” for any green text in the quotes.
  • Substitute red terms with the words in [brackets].
  • Substitute blue words with “school or district leader” or “principal.”

The term “silo” is a metaphor suggesting a similarity between grain silos that segregate one type of grain from another and the segregated parts of an organization. In an organization suffering from silo syndrome, each department or function interacts primarily within that “silo” rather Silothan with other groups across the organization.


When people are culturally inhibited from interacting across departments and functions, they avoid sharing data [ideas, solutions] and information outside of their silos. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can cost an organization in  agility [ faculty buy-in ], productivity [ innovation], and responsiveness [student performance].


Adopting collaborative culture, processes, and tools can keep silo syndrome in check and create greater value [opportunities for innovation, lasting change, faculty and student engagement, etc.]


Command-and-control-oriented cultures breed silos. In such cultures, fear prevails. Managers focus on guarding turf rather than on engaging colleagues outside their group. Instead of reaching across the organization, people in command-and-control cultures primarily move information and decisions vertically.

So when we think about teaching collaboration, we have to think about more than skills. We have to think about changing the culture of schools.

Rosen’s got five suggestions for increasing collaboration in marketing. Check them out.

What action you can take today to implement these ideas in your school?

Image credit:  schoeband
Bee clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

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