Submitted By:
Erica Budd, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ & Stephen J. Valentine, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ

When is compartmentalization necessary or helpful, and when does it stifle innovation and creativity? In her new book, The Silo Effect, Gillian Tennet seeks to answer this question. Using her expertise as both an anthropologist and a financial journalist, she presents case studies to examine the advantages and disadvantages of silos. Although most of her examples come from the business world, there are lessons here for educators at all levels - and great questions. How often do we collaborate within departments rather than inter-departmentally? Do we share data across departments to uncover insights about student learning? Do we "protect our own" at the risk of innovation (as the silos within Sony did)? Fortunately, Tennet offers us more than questions; her answers to the problem of "information bottlenecks" and stifled innovation also point the way forward for schools. By constantly remaking successful products in order to stay ahead of the competition, training new teachers to see their schools through a broad lens rather than multiple disciplinary lenses, and ensuring that our buildings themselves foster the ability for different kinds of people to collide with one another and spark ideas, we will avoid what Tennet calls a paradox of the modern age: "that we live in a world that is closely integrated in some ways, but fragmented in others."

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