Bottom up vs. top down thinking

Most business owners I’ve come across approach their business from the bottom up… “Where’s the problem in my business and how am I going to fix it?”

This is great, sometimes.

Recently I was running a session in my Board of Directors course when it became very clear that the conversation was being approached from the wrong direction, and while people were really engaged in the detailed conversation we couldn’t create a strategy from the bottom up.

We shifted the conversation to simply ask:

  • What are we aiming for?
  • Is the current market big enough to achieve this?
  • What is the best strategy to achieve it?

Within half an hour we’d sketch out a strategy that could never have been created from the bottom up.

There’s a place for both types of thinking, but bottom up only works after some effective top down.