Bottom-Up systems

Where the grass-roots can catalyse change

In hierarchies, the order sometimes flows upward, rather than downward

What does this mean?

  • 1. Bottom-up processes suggest freedom plus responsibility.
  • 2. Top-down systems echo the mindset of those (the few) at the top.
  • 3. By contrast, those lower down represent a greater diversity of many views.
  • 4. This includes a variety of characters, experiences, training and backgrounds.
  • 5. Difference creates opportunities by showing a wider range of choices.
  • 6. Difference is also necessary for creating combinatorial synergies.
  • 7. But differences can also lead to conflict, which may reduce the chances of success.
  • 8. Bottom-up systems are more chaotic - i.e. they may produce surprising outcomes.
  • 9. Bottom-up teams should always try interpret perceived problems as solutions.
  • 10. Every challenge is an opportunity - understand it, use it, re-direct it, apply it.

How to influence things from below

  • 1. Although you are an important team member, your role is passive and covert.
  • 2. Your invisibility to the other members enables you to notice important things.
  • 3. You are 1 of 2 observers with different roles. You will either make notes about:
    • 3a) changes in the team's awareness, body language and conduct
    • 3b) the team's discussions, logic and decision-making
  • 4. Which of these roles you undertake will be decided by the team.
  • 5. You may therefore be assigned a different role, once the exercise has begun.
  • 6. Whichever role you are given it is important to make clear notes and sketches, etc.
  • 7. Wait for the team leader to invite you to give feedback to her/him, or to the team.
  • 8. The quality of your observations/feedback may be decisive to your team's success.

See also top-down systems
See also bridging top-down and bottom-up systems
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