Is “bottom up” the poor cousin of “top down” in your organisation?

Is “bottom up” the poor cousin of “top down” in your organisation?

Most European Companies stick to a task oriented way of working. Managing activities step by step (operational issues) are delegated to the troops – and as this is the way the Napoleonic wars have been conducted, ‘troops’ is the exact reference for this cultural paradigm. Fashionably called empowerment, many operational issues never get on board agendas.

The opposite is true for all strategic issues – from a merger to new markets to investing into another cite it’s daily board business, it’s top-down: Intellectually challenging but in the end always a yes/no question. Top management is used to this yes/no situations. What’s mostly not on their stake is including a bottom-up understanding: Adding the ‘how’to the ‘what’. One is still on risk when bothering with the ‘how’. A spotlight on it often shows that bottom-up is not as appreciated as top-down. It’s the poor cousin of strategy. It’s put into an employee survey with results carefully filtered before they get published and cascaded down. It’s a matter of politics, of worker’s council acceptance, of securing personal data.
And last but not least it’s open a pandora’s box. However, listening, engaging many to add their wisdom, backing a decision by better understanding the needs – that’s the way a socially grown up enterprise gains attraction not the least on the talent market.

It’s change business on its best. A cultural shift – when troops count not only by numbers but by intellect.

by Michael Erben

> have a look at some cases in which we work bottom up
> experience a synthetron session in which we look for information bottom up