Bottom Up vs Top Down Thinking

The direction in which you think, apart from changing your immediate perspective, can be a powerful tool in developing new ideas, thoughts and processes.

Bottom up thinking means you look from the ground up. Begin by starting at the very lowest level, in fact, the smallest components. Bottom up thinking is looking at the trees in your forest.

Top down thinking means you look at the big picture focusing on the end results. Look to your mission statement and use it as your road map or mantra when using this style of thinking. Top down thinking is looking over the whole forest instead of looking at the individual or groupings of trees.

Either direction of thinking – top down or bottom up –  may lead you on towards useful destinations.

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1 Comment

Filed under Business Marketing Strategies, Caregiving, Creativity, Knowledge, Productivity, Terms, Thinking, Time

One response to “Bottom Up vs Top Down Thinking

  1. Fred

    Terry brings up a valuable point for not only individuals but also organizations as a whole. In the military, we would call top down thinking to be strategic and bottom up thinking to be tactical. Philosophers might call it deductive vs inductive. But my organizational experiences has shown me there are grave dangers in having managers and executives who have not done enough bottom-up thinking and are making top down decisions without enough or even any time in the trenches wrestling with the details such as staff may have to on a day-by-day basis. Somehow they can blissfully think strategy without familiarity with the details, or even the desire or curiosity to know what those details might be – wherein lies the proverbial devil. Then we can extrapolate Terry’s point also to loyalty, which is a way of thinking about our devotion to a group. Usually we think of loyalty as being bottom up, or the staff person having loyalty to the group or company. But loyalty like thinking is a two-way street, and it’s important for the management to have loyalty to the staff. MacArthur, the WWII General, used top-down loyalty as one of his most effective traits as a leader. But in these days of economic turmoil and massive layoffs, we see precious little loyalty on the part of the employers, who make “business decisions” as if employees were mere cattle or poker chips. Definitely we need a balance between the two perspectives of bottom-up or top-down, and thanks to Terry for getting our mental machines to think of all these ramifications!

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