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A common debate in the world of project management is that concerning the top down approach vs bottom up approach to management. While we have discussed this question before on our blog, here we will narrow the focus slightly, to investigate the benefits of bottom up approach theory and what they can bring to your project or organization.

First, What’s the Bottom Up Approach?

Firstly, what is the bottom up approach and how is it applied? As the name would suggest, imagining a standard management hierarchy, it means that decision-making and process implementation originates from lower levels and proceeds upwards. In reality, the term is not entirely true to this concept as there is still great input from team leaders and managers and everything is not simply left to the most junior staff to decide the direction of the project. The term is more defined in opposition to the top-down approach, i.e. that a rigid system is in place where decisions are made without consultation and orders are given from the top of the pyramid and everyone below has to follow them without question.

With a bottom up approach, those who are more involved with the specifics of their field are included in the ideation and brainstorming process, with the result being a more harmonized and inclusive management system. As these frontline employees engage with their tasks at the “cutting edge” of the industry, they in turn inform the overall decision-making process further up the ladder.

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The Benefits of Bottom Up Approach Management

  1. Employee buy in: One of the most obvious benefits of bottom up approach is the fact that employees will feel far more involved with your organization and interested in its future success. They will feel more obligated to making processes and methodologies work out if they also feel ownership of their implementation. It also builds a consensus model which means that a practice is less likely to be introduced if the majority of the team don’t agree with it.
  2. Risk identification: As there is a greater degree of communication and feedback from those actively involved in project tasks, there will also be greater information about the level of risk contained in those tasks and how likely issues are to occur.  
  3. Broader knowledge base: When you start using the bottom up approach you will realize something which you should probably have already known, that individual team members have far greater knowledge of their specific fields than you do. This means that rather than giving imprecise instructions or underutilizing people’s abilities, you can harness the full power of your team’s combined knowledge to make sure your project is running as effectively as possible.
  4. Improving collaboration: The larger a project is, the more likely that particular team units get siloed off and miss out on communicating with others involved in the project. This is a lot more likely to happen with the top-down approach, as there will be less opportunity for collaboration or hearing others’ thoughts on the project’s progress. The opposite occurs with bottom up management, giving your team the best possible opportunity for collaborating and understanding the full breadth of your project’s activities.
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