Silo Suicide

Case Stories are coded for quick reading

Blue: What Wasn’t Working
Black: Systemic Method
Red: Outcome

A city council CEO noted that complaints about the council’s services to citizens had rapidly escalated in recent months. An analysis of the timing of the complaints showed that they came in batches and followed ‘improvement’ changes made by one or other of the many new council services. No direct single cause could be identified other than the fact that the complaints generally referred to a range of disturbances in services that theoretically were unchanged.

Some councilors suggested the council was being subjected to an unscrupulous, politically motivated attack. The CEO commissioned a Coherence Mapping study of the whole package of Council services to its citizens in response to a media campaign that focused on a lack of action by council to address the complaints. The Coherence Map of council services identified that all the separate services were of a high standard but were conducted in total isolation from each other. None of the managers of a service had any knowledge of what other services needed from their service or what the impact of their current activities had on the value and effectiveness of other services.

During the Coherence Mapping study, managers began to realize the significance of the unseen relationships among the services. As they explored these relationships they identified how the complaints were unintended consequences arising from one service’s ‘improvements’ on other services. Using the council’s Coherence Map to manage the whole Package of Services resulted in an 80% reduction in complaints over the next six months.