05 May Fixing the “Silos of Broken”

Fixing the silos of brokenMany people see the following attributes as strengths:

  • being passionate,
  • having many great ideas
  • responding quickly to solve all problems
  • jumping in to rescue people

Indeed, they are strengths, but when they are overused, they soon become weaknesses. This is what leadership expert Liz Wiseman calls accidental diminishing.

A few weeks ago, I got very busy and could not respond promptly to my emails. A few days later, when I did get to them, I noticed that most of the problems mentioned in the emails had actually been solved without me. If I had simply stepped in to solve the problems, I would have actually become what Ms. Wiseman calls a “rapid responder.” I would have fixed the problems, but I would have fixed them for someone else – someone who could have or should have been able to do so themselves.

I learned from this episode that I should give others more time to solve their own problems.

I am bringing this up now because in this week’s blog post I plan to explain why we have recently introduced so many new forms into the Qualifirst system: solution forms, quote requests, product specification requests, and others. They are in place so that we can multiply the effectiveness of our team. They are intended to help our team members by providing better answers and to ensure management does a better job of listening.

Requests for clarification

When an employee has a need for information or a quote, he/she can use a form to provide all the information that management would need to return a quick answer.

The extra 5 minutes required to fill out the form will save people 30 minutes of follow up. It will save the need for a phone call, as well as for numerous back-and-forth emails. Most importantly, instead of receiving an answer a week later, the answer will arrive the next day or even sooner.

Silos of broken

When team members have problems or ideas, we want to make sure they are heard and that action is taken. That makes sense, of course, but sometimes the problem does not reach us because it gets fixed too quickly. Some team members are both dedicated and resourceful. When something is broken, they will find a way to get the work done. That’s a particular strength. The problem becomes that management never gets to learn what is broken. This creates what is known as “silos of broken”.

Solutions forms are designed to fix the silos of broken. They still allow team members to solve problems – that’s very important – but at the same time, they alert management to the existence of the problem so that it can be addressed and solved in a permanent way.

Once again, the 5 minutes it takes to fill out a form saves people hours by helping ensure that because that same problem will not show up again.


When team members come up with an idea of how to do something better, we want to hear it. We want to hear it the moment that idea occurs. We have provided a solutions form to hear people’s ideas for improvement.

We have combined this form with our open-door policy to ensure our team members can present their ideas freely. I recognize, too, that despite my best efforts, I do not always listen as well as I should, so these forms will give our team another way to be heard.

We pay attention

It is important to state, we do read the forms and we do act on them. The forms are there so that questions can be answered more quickly, problems can be solved more quickly – and permanently – and most importantly so we can hear what our people want to say to us.

This shapes part of our plan to move information and solutions forward, faster, both for our customers and for ourselves.

To find out if you too are an accidental diminisher, complete this quiz:


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