Even in small companies it's a struggle to keep employees informed. Bob Cummins, president of Fargo Electronics, a $6-million Eden Prairie, Minn., specialty printer manufacturer, countered his 28 employees' threat of daily meetings with a charged idea: a daily electronic newsletter, which he was sure could be faster and more informative.

At day's end, department heads jot messages into the company's electronic-mail system. The next morning the file is printed out and copies of the "newsletter" are put in the break room. Regular topics include daily sales and production figures, profit-sharing updates, and customer feedback. "It's been great for eliminating surprises," says Cummins. "If problems with a product keep coming up in the newsletter, no one's shocked when we discontinue it."