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How to Keep Waterfalls Flowing


If you’ve ever stood alongside a waterfall, whether it’s a mountain stream, Niagara Falls or the massive Victoria Falls, it’s impressive to see the flow. The power of a waterfall is in its kinetic energy, flowing from its source to its destination downstream. That power, properly harnessed, can literally light up cities.

Messaging is much like a waterfall. In most organizations, internal communications flow down from the top management and are intended to reach all employees. But all too often there is a problem with this cascade: the flow gets diverted or, worse yet, stops. When that happens, the people downstream who need to receive the message don’t get it, or they can’t clearly understand it.

Commonly in large, distributed companies, the messaging strategy is straightforward: management sets objectives and communicates them to business unit leaders, who in turn are expected to communicate the message clearly to their direct reports and so on, until the whole organization gets the same message. Trouble is, all too often the message either gets garbled or stops at the manager level and it doesn’t reach the people on the front lines. That is where many businesses fail to meet their objectives. And it’s often for a simple, avoidable reason – they didn’t get everybody on the same page!

A lot of C-level executives talk about problems in execution, which is another source of missed opportunity, but it’s impossible to execute a strategy if only part of the team understands it. Businesses should focus first on communicating the strategy clearly, then work on execution.

Imagine if every employee, from the executive committee to the customer service reps, clearly understood and fully aligned with their corporate strategy? A huge amount of time and effort would be saved, and instead of spinning wheels, the organization could really get moving toward its goals. It would be the business equivalent of tapping the power of a waterfall.

How can businesses solve the cascade problem? Enable everyone to hear the same message at once. Then, as necessary, follow up with smaller groups to reinforce and refine the message. Sounds great, you say, but how in heck do you get thousands of people on the same page at once? The answer is digital broadcasting.

We’re all accustomed to thinking of broadcasting as radio or television, and those media formats have a long and glorious tradition of getting information out to large audiences. Today, however, there are many more access points through digital broadcasting platforms. Organizations today can reach and connect with their employees through private, secure communication channels on virtually any device: smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop or even a TV set. Remember, a TV is actually a signal receiver with a monitor.

Even better, with digital broadcasting it’s possible make sure your people understand the message. You can encourage their participation through interactive elements in your presentation and measure their engagement. That’s way more than we can do today with traditional TV or radio.

Why have your own private, secure communication channel? Because you can. And because it’s the best way for a distributed organization to connect its team members and keep that waterfall flowing.

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