Ok, I just made that up, but why not?! From the very moment we start a job, we’re shoved into a 3.5”x 2” silo. It’s true! We get a title, assigned to a department, and soon we’re trapped in a business card that displays who we are, what we do, and howto contact us for the rest of our LIFE, life, life, life… (to be said with an echo effect as if falling down a sinkhole to the end of the earth). Yikes! We’re not one-trick ponies. In fact, we’ve got lots of tricks, talents, and areas of expertise, but since we were little, well-meaning adults have looked down on us and asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
What a freaking loaded question to ask a pint-sized human!! The implication is that there is only ONE thing we can be/do/learn in our lifetime. We know that’s not true, in fact, all of us from Baby Boomers to Millennials, will hold between 11 and 20 jobs in our lifetime. So, how do we bust out of our predetermined work silos in order to collaborate, communicate, and experiment across departments and disciplines? How do we make our product, book, or art exhibition more robust, surprising, and necessary?
We start by collaborating, communicating, and experimenting with OUR own internal departments!
Recently, I was on a panel presented by Wild Canyon Games (through the AZ Tech Council) that epitomized internal silo busting! The focus was nutrition, balance and exercise in the workplace. Ok, so the usual suspects were present: a personal trainer, a team-building organizer, a marketing exec. But something totally radical happened, each panelist somehow figured out how to bust open their internal silos and put ALL of who they are into ALL of what they do!
Exhibit A: Mikey Mitschele, the personal trainer who prepares—and delivers—healthy organic meals. The twist is that when you place an order, you tell him about a person you’ve seen on the streets who needs a meal too, and he’ll deliver it to that person! Oh, and he’s an engineer.
Exhibit B: Candace Cotton, the Marketing Executive who teaches yoga, talks about the virtues of mediation in the workplace, and approaches branding as an art form.
Exhibit C: Michael Lambourne the founder of Blend. He didn’t eat or sleep well in college, started making smoothies for friends, realized that in addition to more energy, these leafy green smoothies had super health bennies for preventing serious illnesses. Oh, and they source their veggies from a local nonprofit farm that helps public schools and communities learn how to grow food.
Whether you’re a yogi-software developer-activist, fitness trainer-chef-actor, or an artist-president-runner, busting open the silos between what you do and who you are can turn a regular ol’ product/job/life into an agent for social change!
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