Regardless of the industry, the clarion call to break down silos has permeated organizational culture for the past decade. More recently, this concept has expanded beyond single organizations to connect different sectors and engage multiple organizations through the recent ecosystem models being touted in economic and business journals. The benefits of such an approach are as clear and evergreen as good old-fashioned collaboration. When we collaborate, we can expand our reach, better serve our community members or clients, and stretch our dollars just a little further. Yet, when any concept becomes a catch phrase and is elevated to the point of a value in its own right, we can get into trouble.
Why? To answer this, let’s think through some rhetorical questions: What is inherently good in breaking down barriers? What exactly is meant when we say we are creating ecosystems of behavioral health innovation . . . or tech innovation, if that’s your field? Some ideas are so compelling that they can overwhelm the actual practices they entail. In the process, the focus of better serving people – or even saving lives – can get lost.
To combat the creeping of catch phrases into the overdose epidemic, Live Tampa Bay staff and coalition members spent July examining the harder edge of breaking down silos. We have been
- examining outcomes related to breaking down silos to reduce overdose and connect people to naloxone, treatment/recovery services, or other supports;
- highlighting programs in our region that are intentional in how they break down silos;
- sharing processes that must be in place to uphold accountability and quality of service when working across sectors, and
- spotlighting the decision-making processes and questions that leaders ask when confronting some of these partnerships.
The following newsletter and embedded webinar are the product of this work. I would like to offer special thanks to those who participated in July’s webinar: Chief Anthony Holloway (St. Petersburg Police Department), Alan Davidson (CEO, CFBHN), Dr. Heather Henderson (Tampa General Hospital), Nicole Guincho (Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services), William Major (Pasco Sheriff’s Office), and Craig Pickos (Polk for Recovery). I’d also like to thank Live Tampa Bay’s staff: Pen Candor, Andrea Hildebran-Smith, and Freeman Gerhardt II for the resources and articles found within this newsletter.
In closing, it is the harder edge of breaking down silos, not the feelgood value of doing so, that elicits the tough questions: What will success look like? What are some shared outcomes we all can agree to measure? How will we evaluate these outcomes? What resources will we each need to contribute to ensure success? By answering these questions, we can ensure that in breaking down silos we are still each doing our part – perhaps, in collaboration — to reduce the massive loss of life to overdose.
Yours in service,