Top down or bottom up?


All strategic management experts are aware of the difference between top down and bottom up planning. However, not all managers out there will have a full grasp of which option is more suited to their individual organisation – or whether one is better than the other at all.

In reality, for strategic planning to be most effective, management needs to combine the best of both methodologies. Instead of being mutually exclusive frameworks, top down and bottom up planning work in tandem to optimise different areas of your strategic efforts.

Top down

Top down management is exactly what it sounds like – the wider goals and objectives of your strategy are set by those at the top of the organisation and communicated to all employees across. These are further broken down into tasks by department and individuals, so every employee in the organisation is provided with direction.

The benefit of this method is that it draws on the knowledge and expertise of the more senior members of an organisation, those who will have the best insight into how the strategy should move forward. They are purportedly the people who are best placed to delegate the strategy’s components.

One commonly cited flaw of this method, though, is that it can be construed as inflexible and hierarchical. This is where the bottom up technique comes in.

Bottom up

In modern business, collaboration across all levels of an organisation is key. Including bottom up management in your strategic planning ensures communication isn’t just one-way from top to bottom, and that employees at all levels are invited for input.

After strategic goals and objectives have been clearly communicated through the use of strategy mapping software, employees can then have their say on which tactics must be deployed to bring them into action. The ensuing two-way flow of information creates a dynamic and collaborative environment, one that can be pivotal to the success of your business’s strategy.