Cascade through air, not water

12th February 2013

We recently had a small flood in our garden. So I had two choices when I was walking: go through the muddy, cloying puddles, or avoid them.

Amazingly, I did the latter. I chose the easiest path.

Obvious, yes? After all, people always choose the easiest path, don’t they?

Well, no, not always. For instance, when people have important messages to cascade, they have two paths:

  • The muddy, cloying path of creating detailed slides, emailing them to their team and saying “pass my messages onto your teams using these complex slides”; or
  • Making it really easy – either by:
  1. communicating directly with their team’s team, or
  2. creating something simple to cascade

When you look at it like that, why would anybody choose the muddy, cloying path? Yet, people do.

So, to improve cascades, here are two better options:

  1. When appropriate, communicate directly with your team’s team
  2. If you want to involve your team:
  • Tell them the impact you want their communication to have on their teams
  • Tell them the key (very few) messages to get across, to cause this impact
  • Ask them to add their own slant, stories, experiences etc to make the communication resonate with their teams

Both work very well. The first means people hear directly from you. The second works because people often respond well to their boss’s personal perspective.

And, of course, if you’re handed something to cascade that’s muddy and cloying, consider asking the owner for guidance on what they want you to add to their message. It’s just a much less muddy path to choose.

Action point

Involved in a cascade this week? Ask yourself: “are we choosing the best path to ensure we do this well?”; and identify ways to strip out all the mud.

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