“To cascade” information refers to the notion of ‘pushing out’ communication ‘top-down’ (e.g. from the senior leaders of an organisation to the rest of the workforce). As the message flows down it will be tailored according to the audience.

Strategic communication fails are at the top of the food chain

The full and original article was published on Purdue by Mike Kohler and Brian Lamb


Topping my Strategic Communication Fails chart is the accountability gap at the very top of the org. chart. I refer to this gap when I facilitate a favorite leadership communication workshop on what I call “The Communication Cascade”.


The Communication Cascade is based on a waterfall metaphor in which the energy from the top is cascaded down through each descending level until you have a vibrant, bubbling pool at the bottom, hence the “bubbling up” effect for which organizations strive, or should strive. Theoretically, that all sounds great to many organizations. They embark on what they label as cascading information through the organization, but because of an accountability gap, the bubbling pool ends up being stagnant and layered with pond scum.


So where is that accountability gap and how is that gap created? It’s at the very top, specifically among those who report directly to the CEO or owner. Most commonly, the owner/CEO has a vision (small “v” for a reason) for the organization, and it’s been my experience that the top leader can express it pretty clearly and succinctly – and without commissioning high-priced consultants. So if you want to know the vision, just ask the boss. ‘Nuff said!


But the next logical step should be to have the direct reports in all functional areas tasked with evangelizing the messages to their respective work groups at all levels. Sadly, that doesn’t happen enough. The direct reports don’t have that responsibility built in as measures in their performance reviews. Even worse, the messaging is delegated either to Human Resources to send memos to employees or to Sales/Marketing to hold charming pep rallies. If vision and mission matter, leaders must equally share the responsibility for conveying key messages throughout the ranks.

Credit: The full and original article was published on Purdue by Mike Kohler and Brian Lamb

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