Recently I had a great day moderating a discussion with a ministry about how to increase collaboration and innovation. They had been a highly compartmentalized (think silos) ministry where it was almost impossible to cross departmental lines to work synergistically.
The irony is that when one got the right people around the table ideas flowed quickly for a full day. And, individuals who had not been able to collaborate freely in the past actually had skills that complemented one another. They are in the process of removing the roadblocks that had kept them siloed and are very excited about the prospects.
In a world that ought to be flat it is unfortunate that there are still many organizations which do not encourage, or even mandate synergistic collaboration regardless of the department they reside in. There may well be good reasons for different departments but there is no good reason for a paradigm that prevents or does not encourage collaboration across those departmental lines.
Here is the rule. The more compartmentalized an organization is the less synergistic collaboration they will have and the less innovation they will experience. Neither are preferred outcomes.
This is especially important today in a day when financial resources are less available meaning that effeciencies are more critical. Those effeciencies are often found in finding ways to maximize the intellectual capital of the organization, regardless of where it resides.
Another factor is that departments and people get into ruts in their thinking. When you bring in new talent from the outside (another department) you bring in someone who can look at problems and options with new eyes.
Innovation and solutions are always better when done with the best intellectual talent possible. But that means collaboration and every organization either affirms and encourages it or does not. Hint: when leaders model it, others often follow suit.