Understanding Silos and Moving towards the SUN

By Rachel McIntosh, Southwest Airlines.

Many organizations are commonly divided up into groups based on their function. It has seemed to be the most efficient way to practice business. For example, there are typically accounting teams, sales teams, marketing teams, technology teams and so on with senior leadership layers above them. This functional division can lead to internal silos with people in each area focused on their own departmental business processes. Silos exist, in part, because each piece of the business requires complex understanding with specific tools or applications to support their part of the business. To add more complexity, each silo has its own goals. These are not always bad things, we are getting the work done but could we be better? There is a remedy to better serve the business and break the Silos.

That remedy is Super Users, they are a business imperative. By bringing Super Users together building a platform to communicate, you break down those performance silos. You break them down in a way that doesn’t produce fear but true collaboration. It’s a magical thing when you have common-minded individuals, with no limitations, discussing how to improve business process. However, the magic doesn’t happen overnight for Super User Communities. Super User’s need time to understand their new role.

(To learn more about how to design a Super User Community Check out the Super User ( R ) Evolution book by Ginger Luttrell and Michael Doane)

Instantly having a platform to collaborate and empower to make change can be an unusual concept at first. Many new Super Users go through this moment of “What does this really mean”. Let them know that they are not alone. Most new Super Users go through the struggle of understanding “Silo to Super” thinking.

Here are a couple of examples of questions from actual new Super Users:


  • What if I say something my manager doesn’t want me to talk about?
  • What if I bring up a process improvement that impacts another team and it makes them upset?
  • I am really good at what I do… but how does that bring value to another team?
  • I don’t know everything, am I supposed to know everything?




If you have new Super Users in your organization reach out to them and ask some questions to gauge their feelings. Let them know that over time they will grow with confidence to make change. That once they find that sweet spot or have an “ah-ha” moment all the fear goes away. Encourage them to continue to push past the “What If” to “I know” and move towards “This is how I can help you”.

A mentor told me in the beginning of my Super User journey to “Allow myself some grace as I grow and once I move past the silo… I will find my SUPER self!” That really resonated with me and hopefully it will with you too.

SAPinsight and the whole Super User Network (SUN) is here to help you with any questions you may have. Check out SAP insight Blogs, Tips, Training and LinkedIn posts as a source of information to assist on your journey. The SUN is here to help!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.