Measurement Works

Strategic Planning - Focus Groups
Surveys - Training - Evaluation

June-September, 2013
In This Issue
Cascades don't work
Tip: How to write goals
Upcoming workshops
Quick Links
 Sinickas by Salvo
If you haven't received this newsletter lately, that's because it took a summer break.  

Though I have written on the topic of the first article in this issue before, I continue to see discussions on LinkedIn forums that assume the cascade is the best way to communicate with employees. Please use the link at left to forward this issue to other communicators you know so this misinformation can be corrected once and for all.

Feel free to email me with your measurement questions or challenges, and we'll try to answer them in future issues.

                                                          Angela Sinickas  
Cascades fail because they lack gravity 


Face-to-face conversations between managers and their employees can provide context to organization-wide news and help employees feel more connected to high-level strategies. However, in most organizations, "cascading" new information from the top level through all the levels below is doomed to failure because, unlike a waterfall cascade, there is no comparable force pulling the information down the way gravity pulls water to earth. The results of relying on cascades to share new information are all too often:

  • Not all managers pass information down the chain, creating blockages.
  • Managers put their own spin on the messages they do pass along, creating inconsistent information.
  • Even those who do share the new information conduct their meetings at different times. That means that employees in the first meetings tell all their friends the new information before their own managers have had a chance to do so. Another name for this is rumors. 
A better analogy than a waterfall cascade for trying to broadcast new information through the management chain would be the Panama Canal. In order to move a shipload of information from one ocean to another requires slow and methodical opening and closing of a series of locks to make sure the information progresses as intended.
The chart below shows how much information is lost moving down the management chain under three different scenarios. (Source: Sinickas database of client survey results.) The first bar shows the difference in information levels between the highest and lowest job ranks in three retail/warehouse companies where most employees do not have access to any electronic channels and must rely on the management cascade for most of their information needs. (In other words, however well informed the most senior executives are, the non-managerial employees' information level drops down by more than 50%. The second bar shows a very similar drop in four organizations that had no formal IC function at the time of the surveys, and so also were relying heavily on the cascade. The smallest drop in information levels, 23%, occurred in organizations with robust internal communication programs able to deliver consistent information on key topics at the same time to all employees, which can later be followed by face-to-face conversations with managers to understand the impact of the broad information to local teams.

Impact of cascade on lost information levels  

Participate in a LinkedIn discussion on this topic.
Read more on data showing what sources employees prefer on different topics.


Read more on ways of measuring the effective-

ness of a cascade


Tip: Easy way to write SMART goals 


SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results focused and Time based. That's easy to memorize, but often hard to apply. Try using the following tool to help write your own key performance indicators or strategic communication goals. Adapt one element from each column, to create SMART goals like:

  • Message: Increase favorable community opinions of our expansion plan from 25% to 55% by the time we break ground.
  • Channel: Increase the number of people downloading coupons for our new product from our Facebook page to 5,000 per month by the end of 2013.
  • Behavior: Decrease by 25% the number of employee questions coming in to our call center each month about how our medical plan covers mental health expenses by the time benefits open enrollment begins on November 1, 2013.


Workshops 2013-2014 
In addition to the public workshop below, I will be in Indianapolis November 15, in Europe in the late spring and in Brazil in early August for client work. (See full speaking schedule.)
  • Dec. 11, New YorkTracking Your Progress: Audits, Surveys and Monitoring (Conference Board)
We can also conduct customized workshops for your organization based on concepts in our one- and two-day programs, or provide you with pre-recorded audios of one-hour segments of these workshops:


Measurement Manual
A practical manual on measurement
"A definitive hands-on resource... from advice on conducting focus groups, to measuring communication flow, to survey question construction, it's all here."

                                 --IABC Communication World


Now in its 3rd edition, this practical guide to communication measurement is filled with samples

of questions and reports, as well as dozens of stories

about how measurements have been used by others.   


Author   Reviews   Preview Contents   Order Form 


Header 1
 Tel: +1.714.277.4130                     FAX: +1.714.242.7049