January 23, 2019

Top-down, bottom-up

I get the feeling that top-down thinking is very unfashionable at the moment.

It smacks too much of command-and-control, over-complicated buraeucracy, and having things ‘done to you’ instead of ‘done with you’ – or even ‘done by you’.

Bottom-up thinking is great for quick wins, incremental change and emergent consensus, but top-down can uncover opportunities for radical change that bottom-up thinking will miss, because you’re asking higher-level questions – “How should we keep our promise?”, rather than “How do we open the office?”.

And often, by answering these high-level questions, we can remove whole chunks of low-level procedure that would otherwise go unquestioned.

We shouldn’t let our thinking get trapped in our organisational structure.

Just because you’re at the bottom doesn’t mean you can’t think top-down.