Top down thinking

In top down organizations information flows up and decisions come down. The military is an example of a top down organization.

People in top down organization exercise top down thinking. They aren’t designing creative solutions and exceeding expectations because top down organizations require and honor conformity.

We should expect top down organizations to produce conformists.

If you’re a leader in a top down organization the natural tendency for followers to tell you what you want to hear is nearly insurmountable.

The sad truth is people in top down organizations naturally shift from an outwardly focused vision to self-advancing, self-protective personal agendas. Top down organizations turn inward, develop sluggish bureaucracies, and require customers to adapt to them.

Top down organizations include; religious denominations, governmental and political agencies, and educational institutions. I believe top down organizations eventually suffocate themselves. The only times top down organizations create something bold and beautiful are during life threatening crisis. Only a crisis transforms conformists into innovators.

If you’re creating a top down family, business, or organization, expect conformity. Expect others to tell you what you want to hear. Expect your followers to fear failure and embrace the status quo. I think you’re developing dependent followers.

Three Problems with top down organizations

#1 – Leaders in top down organizations create and affirm people that comfort each other by clinging to the status quo.

#2 – Leaders in top down organizations never get the real picture because people tell them what they want to hear.

#3 – Followers in top down organizations live in bondage to bureaucratic hierarchy.


You’ve just read an opinion. Do you share this opinion? Can you advocate in support of top down organizations?  What other down sides of top down organizations can you list?


Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell