Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Approach

This is the second video in the MB&A Executive Series. It is part two of an interview with Major General Dale Meyerrose on a top-down vs. bottom-up approach to organizational transformation.

Below is the transcript of this video:

Josh: Thanks for being here Dale. When managing change you often hear about a top down approach or a bottom up approach, from your experience which do you think is more effective and do you have strong feelings about how transformation should be approached in this regard?’

Dale: I have very strong feelings and beliefs about that. No change can take place without leadership and where that leadership comes is very very important. So when you’re looking at organizations where you’re defining the what and the why, the higher up the more top down that type of leadership needs to come. When you’re talking about transforming things about the how and the when that will tend to be from a bottom up. Again I’ll give you two concrete examples one from each and again it is important to realize that the leadership comes from different places based upon where the motivation comes from. So a top down is the creation of US northern command and the creation of vector national intelligence. That is clearly a top down. There was a blank United States government that we needed new organizations to encompass new missions and to completely create something to fill a void. That is clearly a top down. It starts with what are we going to build and why do we want to. And that goes along with my pattern that says that it is more important in that instance that the leadership comes from there. But when you’re talking about the how and the when the example I’ll give you has to do with when I was in the Director of National Intelligence. I think one of the transformational things we did in the intelligence community to share information was the creation of a tool or mechanism if you will, called Intellipedia. Intellipdia took the idea of social networking that was embodied by Wikipedia and in fact brought it about with the intelligence community. The thing that is important about this instance from the bottom up was that we didn’t get the programming to do this. In essence we took 5000 or so brand new analysts in the community that would probably be classified as 20 somethings or 30 somethings and created a venue by which they increased the collaborative share of information across the intelligence community and so again its important when you’re looking at change management or transforming organizations are you talking about the motivation for the what and the why that needs to be top down, when you talk about the how and when that tends to be coming from up the middle or from the bottom up as it were.

Josh: Thanks Dale. For those of you interested in hearing more from Dale be sure to check out our next video where we talk to the General about some methods and processes he’s found useful in managing change for organizations. Again I’m Josh Millsapps and thanks for watching this episode of MB&A’s executive series.

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