The Science to Cascading Messages

| January 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

An article in the December 2012 Harvard Business Review caught my attention, How to Help Employees “Get” Strategy by Charles Galunic and Immanuel Hermreck. In this article they refer to the concept of “embeddedness”; companies striving to make sure their employees ’get’ the corporate strategy. The authors take issue with the value of cascading messages and believe only top leaders can provide the weight and clarity necessary for strategic messages. While I fully agree that cascading messages can resemble the game of telephone, I believe the discipline of this methodology can and does work. The issue is one of discipline and augmenting top management’s communication.

Patrick Lencioni describes the art and science of cascading messages in a number of his books as an important tool that enhances internal communications.

Here is the start of a check list to better ensure your cascading messages not only get to the right people, but get to them intact:

1. Before a meeting is over, allocate the last 15 minutes to determine, as a group, what messages need to be conveyed and to whom.

2. Write the message on the white board or virtual meeting screen. (I am sure you will not be surprised by the number of times members of the group will disagree with what was decided – especially if it has been an all day meeting on strategy.)

3. Cascading messages need to be delivered in person or on the phone. The value in cascading messages is in the exchange, in the dialogue, in the response to questions.

I will add to this list in our upcoming February 2013 Blog.

Just to clarify, I absolutely agree with Galunic and Hermreck. Strategic messages need to be delivered by top management who can add a unique essence to the meaning of the communication. Their article would be well worth your read. I just think clear and compelling cascaded messages, delivered by multiple levels of management, can have real power in ‘embedding’ the corporate strategy.

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Category: Blog, Decision Making, Leadership

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About the Author ()

Julia Hill-Nichols, SPHR, is the founder of LeadersCove, LLC. With over 30 years experience in operations and human capital management, Julia is gifted in the art and science of bridging strategic imperatives and a company’s human capabilities—executing for success, meeting bottom-line objectives and enlivening the people who are the organization’s lifeblood.

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