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The Manifesto of a Silo SmasherArticle by: Veronica Baesso

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Illustration by Robert Reed

I was asked to write this in 2011 by friend and author Kyra Maya Phillips. It was part of a project to inaugurate the opening of Hub Westminster in London. I was excited to share my ideas on designing a present and future that we can be proud of. The fruit of that labor is below and it’s the first time it’s been published outside of the Hub. Hopefully there will be nuggets that can help shape and sharpen your passion. Enjoy and build.

The Manifesto of a Silo Smasher

Often when we are asked about “change” it is constructed as an abstract idea. Change is often viewed as something that happens to us rather than something we can create ourselves. What we have the power to change is also often an abstraction. Of course, we can change small things but what about the really big problems? World hunger? Income inequality? Genocide? Surely not. Those issues are too big and require the type of changes that no one person is capable of. If they are attempted better to be attempted by someone other than myself. Because, after all..who am I? I am only one person. But with a new manifesto with a new way of looking at the world you can realize that “one person” is the most important person there is.

My Manifesto is that of creating a new way of thinking personally and organizationally and it is designed for the “Non-Silo Generation”.

Definition: Silos – Silos exist both within us personally and the organizations that we work in. Silos or being “siloed” is a way of thinking that keeps us relegated to only certain paths or areas of expertise. Silos are boundaries to cross functional partnerships, relationships and thinking. Silos keep us grounded in only doing what is “expected of us” rather than branching out beyond it.

Credo: Dream. Inspire. Innovate

This is the credo of the Non-Silo Generation. A Non-Silo Generation is one that does not prescribe to the old ways of doing things and prefer to work more creatively across boundaries and cross functional areas. The Non-Silo Generation seeks to find nontraditional ways to solve problems and build relationships globally.

The principles of the Non-Silo Generation

  • Ideation – Create a big idea. As big as you can. The future is changed by those who thought big and dared to challenge the status quo. Your idea should be born of your passion and enacted with love to make the world you live in a better place.
  • Actualize – Ideas are just the beginning. Steps must be taken in order to take the idea out of the planning stage and make it real. Concrete action steps must be written down, realistic timelines must be followed and where necessary allies across functions should be enlisted to make your idea a reality.
  • Engagement – Share your idea with the world. No one accomplishes anything in isolation. Fear of sharing your idea whether because you don’t trust or you’re afraid you won’t do it are self defeating thoughts. Ideas are enhanced by feedback and criticism. Only by engaging others will you know whether your idea has the necessary trial by fire to withstand the long journey to become an instrument of change.
  • Commitment – Support your efforts and find others that will as well. Turn your moment into a movement.
  • Scale – Make your idea and your vision bigger. No matter how big you believe you were thinking when you started once you go through the other stages your idea should have grown. Let it take you in new directions.
  • De-mystify the process – anything can be learned and expertise in a particular discipline can always be acquired or borrowed. You do not have to know how to do everything especially when you can work with and engage others to fill those gaps. No process is too complicated to master if one merely takes the time and has the necessary focus. Processes are often made to be seemingly difficult because it keeps traditional organizations and gate keepers in power. Refuse to be mystified by their process. Instead either learn your way through it or create your own more efficient way to do the same thing. Circumvent the noise of the traditional.
  • Present = Future – The future we choose to live in is much the same as the present that we should be working to construct. A move away from hyper capitalism, from meaningless exchanges and interactions and toward building a meaningful and sustainable community based on shared passion, creativity and love. The more we work together and communicate honestly and without bias the more likely we are to actively change the entrenched institutions that seek to control our present and future. One should always seek to understand the future by understanding the present. Our “future” is happening now. The present and the future are thereby linked and push against one another constantly. Seeing them as separate is a traditional way of thinking that leads us back to siloed thinking.

Illustration by  Robert Reed


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