News and its journey upwards

News and its journey upwards

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 26 Jun 2008, 10:37 PM – 9 Comments

At a broad level there are only three kinds of news in the organization.

1. Good news

2. Bad news

3. Irrelevant news

The way good news and bad news travel within the organization is typically different.

Good news has a way of growing through the layers and showing up as bigger than what it is originally.

Bad news has a way of shrinking through the layers and showing up as smaller than what it is originally.

In either case, reality is distorted.

When reality is distorted, you pay a price. In the first case (good news contributing to reality distortion), this price may be complacence. In the second case (bad news contributing to reality distortion) the price may be a rude shock.

Question to think about:

What practices can we put in place so that the reality distortion is kept to a minimum?


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9 Comments so far, Add Yours

Venkk Sastry  on June 27th, 2008

Hi Rajesh

I happen to think its more subjective on the actual good/bad news. Good/bad news might get blown up/down depending on “Who?” and “What?”

Have a great weekend.



Rajesh Setty  on June 27th, 2008


Thank you for your comment.

I am sure you have a point there. But I could not understand it. Please pardon me and elaborate. May be it’s the pairings – good/bad, up/down and “who” and “what” all coming together that confused me a bit.

Have a wonderful weekend.



Venkk Sastry  on June 28th, 2008

Hi Raj,

I apologize and will try again. I am saying how the news travels up words is subjective to the type of news and the person(s) involved in the chain. For example, if a person in lowest level is performing/contributing extremely well it might not travel up at all (or might definitely be morphed). Think of this example in an innovative organizational context — loss is for the organization.

The most important reason for me is people are generally (consciously or subconsciously) marketing to their superiors/juniors while communicating (just their nature). Having understanding of this (and so many other) hidden variables in an organizational structure will enable to create an effective process framework to foster more open communication.

This question may also help:

What are the different factors (variables) that are causing the current breakdown?



Rajesh Setty  on June 28th, 2008

Venkk, thank you for the clarification. Now I understand our perspective.



jorge orta  on June 30th, 2008

i think this is a problem, but soon the ceo will find out how big the problem was, by the time he finds out the company will have worse problems than the first one.

raj  on July 6th, 2008

Communication, Communication and more communication and more so leveraging social media both within and outside can probably lessen the impact of bad news filtering and shrinking on its way up!


Rajesh Setty  on July 6th, 2008

Thank you Raj for your comment. How have you been?

I agree that social media within and outside the organizations have made a big impact on the way news travels.

Hopefully more companies will leverage that to the benefit of all



Mike Ramm  on July 10th, 2008

We had a great movie in 1960s in Bulgaria. It was called “Whale” and it told a story of a small team of fishermen who succeeded to catch only a small fish for a whole week in the sea. When their way back home, they confessed to their manager on the radio what they caught. Then he decided to enlarge the size of the caught fish and he told his colleagues that it was a bigger fish. Then the information went upper and upper and the fish grew bigger and bigger and finally it was reported to the Party leader (it was during the communist time) that the fishermen had caught a whale.

It was a parody but showed exactly the way information goes up and is distorted.

Thank you, Raj, for bringing this topic. It’s a great food for thought.

Rajesh Setty  on July 10th, 2008

That’s a cool story. Thanks for sharing this Mike.



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