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Silos, Politics, And Turf Wars – Cancers To Your Brand!

November 13, 2015

Recently I was participating in a round table discussion among CEOs and company owners. The question was raised… What aspect of your business frustrates you so badly it almost makes you want to quit? A thought-provoking question for sure. One that certainly got my attention and the group’s. Upon reflection, one of the CEOs shared that he was dealing with a problem of politics and turf battles between some of his departments and that his company was starting to feel some repercussions that were not good.

Later that evening I revisited one of my favorite books, Silos Politics And Turf Wars by Patrick Lencioni. A great read addressing the common issue of departmental turf wars. Reading it again from a brand specialist’s perspective, I realized that there are numerous brand insights needing to be shared regarding the cancerous effect that silos, politics and turf wars have on a master brand. This month Ignite will be addressing, through a series of blogs, numerous brand applications as they apply to insights found in Patrick’s book. I highly recommend that you read the book. It is short and written in a smart narrative style. Reading it first will amplify the applicational benefits you can pull from this series of blogs.

As I often do, let’s talk first about what a Master Brand is so that we can all be operating from the same sheet of music. Important to do as there are countless definitions of brand out there.

A Master Brand is the heart and soul of your organization itself. It is your company’s claim of distinction backed by proof. It is your business’s spirit… it’s DNA. Your Master Brand has both a mind side and a heart side, allowing your business to generate an emotional connection with your various target audiences (including your employees). It is your competitive, compelling distinction that drives your behaviors, procedures and decisions and ultimately allows you to make your competition irrelevant. And by doing so, dominate through your category ownership within your industry. It is so important that your organization’s brand resides right up there alongside your people as your most valuable asset. Damage to this asset is simply intolerable and unacceptable!

In his book, Patrick Lencioni says “building a cohesive leadership team is the first critical step that an organization must take if it is to have the best chance of success.” (Lencioni). Having a clear understanding what your master brand is and what it consists of is the foundation supporting a cohesive leadership team. It is the “glue” behind the word cohesive. Lencioni shares that “Silos rise up not because of what executives are doing purposefully but rather because of what they’re failing to do: provide themselves and their employees with compelling context for working together.” (Lencioni). Your Master Brand is that flag that you are going to plant and rally your troops around. If you are the Marine Corps, you are the few and the proud. It defines how your leaders meld together and how they lead and inspire as one team, generation after generation. Your brand provides that context that allows you to work together. It insures that “everyone remains on the same wavelength, moves in the same potential direction that is in the best interest of the organization.” (Lencioni).

Silos in your business are demonstrative indicators that your leaders and their respective teams are not working together from a singular focused brand perspective – from the same motivators that are in the best interest of the company versus their individual units. They erode your brand’s compelling context for working together. As they grow in size and strength, silos and turf wars negatively affect your organization’s ability to consistently deliver on your brand promise and eventually – inevitably – this reality is exposed to your critical audiences and your brand is damaged. In this scenario, not only are teams working independently among themselves inside your company, they can be working antagonistically.

When Lencioni speaks to the notion of context as a critical one to your organization experiencing a challenge of this nature, we can confidently replace the word context with the word brand. As your master brand drives all organization behaviors, decisions, and goals; collective negative behaviors that grow into silos and unwanted destructive politics are indeed cancerous and a real poison to sustained profitable growth and prosperity. Over the next few weeks, we will visit Lencioni’s recommended solutions and actions from a brand lens perspective. Suffice it to say that concentrating with intentional strategic thought and attention to the development of your brand is essential in combating silos, turf wars and politics within your organization.


Richard Gripp, President and Senior Brand Strategist for Ignite
For more insights on developing and igniting your business through your brand, visit Ignite’s website and click on the knowledge center tab for an archive of written and video blogs on brand and it’s relevance to your organization’s health, competitive prowess and prosperity.

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.