NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Employees are becoming so incredibly fragmented inside many large organizations that the right hand often has no idea what the left hand is doing, said Gillian Tett, author of The Silo Effect.
"Most silos exist because people don't even think about the way they classify and organize the world," said Tett. "We've become creatures of our own environment and the problem with that is that you end up both risking big dangers because of tunnel vision, but also missing big opportunities, too."
Tett is the managing editor and columnist at the Financial Times. In 2014 she was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards. In 2011 she was awarded the British Academy's Presidents' Medal and her previous books include Saving the Sun and Fool's Gold.
In order to write The Silo Effect, Tett embedded herself within a number of organizations ranging from UBS (UBS) - Get UBS Group AG Report to the Chicago Police Department. She also visited Facebook (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report, a company she said is well aware of the dangers of silos.
"They have actively tried to overcome the problems of silos and to avoid the dangers that beset a company like Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report by looking at how they organize themselves internally and above all else getting employees to think about the silo effect," said Tett.
Tett said the world's largest banks suffer perhaps more than any other sector from an entrenched silo effect. In fact, she blamed the financial crisis on "the small group of people who are incentivized to really only care about what that small group is doing" and who pay no attention to what is happening in the rest of the firm.
"Now some of these have to be there because of legal 'Chinese walls,'" said Tett. "But most of the time the problem with silos inside banks is that there is a tribal, tunnel vision that besets the bankers which means they cannot join up the dots and see the really big risks that are building in the financial system. And more importantly, they can't see the opportunities."
Outside the corporate world, Tett said government institutions are often beset by big bureaucratic silos that cause too much waste.
"It also creates so many missed opportunities," said Tett. "Not just in terms of not bringing the right people in for the job, but wasting money. On the flip side, when institutions think about their silos and try and overcome them you can actually have some amazing results."