Don't let layers of management obstruct the flow of information

At every level, managers are guilty of spinning bad news and sheltering their bosses from real developments

Dear Bob ...

I'd like your opinion on something.

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I used to be CTO of a small business but got bumped out with a new CEO. So I went into consulting -- project management, of all things. In looking at why projects succeed and fail in an organization, I think a major factor is insulation -- layers of insulation, in fact, between every level of the organization.

It seems not only does each layer of management not trust the ones two levels (and lower) down, but they put a layer of insulation between them, so no real decision-making information can pass between. That's why, I think, so many mergers and acquisitions can make sense at the top but cause utter chaos in the engine room. What do you think?

- Observing

Dear Observing ...

I'd interpret it a bit differently: Managers aren't putting insulation between themselves and the next layer. Managers are layers of insulation.

Every layer of management is a layer of insulation. It's how things work: At every layer, the manager does everything possible to prevent his/her manager from hearing any bad news and to spin the bad news that can't be contained to paint as rosy a picture as possible.

Don't get me started on M&As. All I'll say is that most fail because either (1) they never made sense in the first place; or (2) nobody went through the hard work of figuring out how to integrate the acquisition or merging companies and then invested the effort to execute the plan.

- Bob

This story, "Don't let layers of management obstruct the flow of information," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com.

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