Discover How the FINESSE Fishbone Diagram and Wagner’s Russian Insurrection Are Connected

The world will need a little more FINESSE in the aftermath of the failed Russian coup.

JD Solomon
3 min readJun 25, 2023
The world will need a little more FINESSE in the aftermath of the failed Russian coup.

On June 23 and 24, 2023, military troops from the Wagner Group pulled out of the front lines in Ukraine and began a march on Moscow to overturn the Russian government. The move surprised the world. Communication in its wake was poor. One central question is how the FINESSE Fishbone Diagram applies to Wagner’s Russian Insurrection and similar events.

Poor Communication

Communication is usually poor as a rare event unfolds. Most of the news must be taken from eyewitness accounts. Most information is provided via pictures and videos from social media accounts. In social conflicts, the information is often skewed to influence public perception.

Twitter Shows Its Value

International news agencies struggle with surprising events. The most obvious reasons are that they have few resources on the ground, the normal communication channels are disrupted, and they often try to confirm information. A less obvious reason is that their commentators are better equipped, even “programmed: for normal events rather than rare events.

The most usual information at the height of the Russia Insurrection can be from several ad hoc groups on Twitter. Unlike news agencies, these groups compiled the drips and drabbles of pictures and accounts and triangulated them in real time.

Communication Before and After Rare Events

Communicating before and after a rare event differs from communicating during the event. The communication in these cases reflects the logical, controlled thinking that occurs over the long term. One model, the Perceptual-Interpretive Framework, is based on the three primary ways people process information. The FINESSE fishbone diagram is rooted in this tradition.

Communication During a Rare Event

All bets are off during a rare event. Traditional thinking is quickly found to be not applicable or unacceptable as the rare event unfolds. Our communication approach must be modified to meet the changed psychological state of our audience and the unavailability of timely, verifiable information.

Since surprises (deviation from expectations) represent risks, everyone seeks to return to normal.

The FINESSE Fishbone Diagram

The Communicating with FINESSE fishbone diagram identifies the seven factors that produce effective communication in the face of complexity and uncertainty. The seven factors are Frame, Illustrations, Noise Reduction, Empathy, Structure, Synergy, and Ethics.

FINESSE is used for big decisions that occur over long periods. Big decisions usually pass through multiple layers of trusted advisors before final resolution. Consistency and telling all sides of the story are essential.

FINESSE is not a primary communication approach during a crisis. The FINESSE fishbone diagram applies best before and after a rare event.


The Wagner Group’s Russian Insurrection was a rare event where crisis communication was needed. The FINESSE fishbone diagram is not a crisis communication approach. However, everyone needed a little more FINESSE before the event. And everyone certainly needs some more FINESSE now.

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JD Solomon is the author of Communicating Reliability, Risk & Resiliency to Decision Makers: How to Get your Boss’s Boss to Understand and Facilitating with FINESSE: A Guide to Successful Business Solutions.