It’s not what you know, it’s how many departments know it.

The detrimental effects of a silo mentality have been well established. In fact, one study says that an astonishing 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.

So, you know the problem is too complex and entrenched to be solved by workplace signs like “Teamwork is less me and more we”, or by having everyone participate in a “Which Animal Are You?” exercise.

The fact is, a silo mentality reduces overall productivity in tangible ways. It also hurts morale, which affects efficiency, and ultimately profitability, in many intangible ways.

Breaking down this destructive organizational issue is never simple or easy. Countless business books and articles have proposed ideas to increase collaboration, through solutions such as reducing long and frequent meetings, implementing cross-departmental training, adding cozy meeting rooms and more – which all have merit.

But I’ve seen another way to build bridges between departments: the sharing of data. The situations are always pretty much the same — companies suffering from serious cases of silomania, with valuable data locked and isolated within departments. Once the silo walls begin to crumble, lo and behold, other departments were able to use parts of the shared data to identify new opportunities for products and services.

Such an exchange of knowledge (and the collaboration that must inevitably take place between teams) is absolutely invaluable. It’s hard to think of any medium or larger company in any industry where data for one department wouldn’t benefit others.

So, consider having data sharing drive cross-pollination at your firm. It’ll do more to fight the silo mentality than Bring-Your-Dog-To-Work Thursdays.