Top-down, bottom-up

High-level Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne. Frederick S. Williams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

High-level Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne. Frederick S. Williams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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.