Silos and the ‘Acid River of Change’

By Lisa Hochgraf

Earlier this month, CUES staff gathered to talk about organizational values, the company’s vision and how to work together ever better as we move forward.

One task in our session was to walk across the “acid river of change,” a wide river temporarily marked off in the parking lot of CUES headquarters in Madison, Wis. Each of our cross departmental groups, which had been selected for indoor activity, was now given a stack of cardboard sheets. Our charge: to cross the river without ever putting our feet in the water–ie, with our feet on the cardboard sheets. We were allowed to “rest” only on our own sheet, and everyone–in the entire company–had to step together onto the far bank of the river.

We did accomplish the goal, and what was the most important takeaway? Reaching the company-wide goal of having every CUES staffer step onto the far bank at the same time meant we had to talk across our groups. We had to break down our silos.

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