It’s been a while now since the world of HR/OD/Management/Consulting has realised that ‘top down’ (stuff) is not politically correct anymore. Top down apparently is only welcome now by farmers when hoping for rain.
To solve this, we have added the opposite to the language, that is, ‘bottom up’, the other side of the coin, supposedly the troops taking more charge.
So now it’s easy to hear, far more than a year ago, ‘bottom up this’, ‘bottom up that’, which hopes to give an automatic legitimization to the opposite of top down.
But the language of ‘bottom down’ does nor ensure that this is what it is. In fact, I find more and more people saying that they had something to do and ‘decided not to do it top down, so they had 100 workshops bottom up’.
But these workshops were not bottom up. They were 100 top down workshops done at the bottom. The geography has changed, nothing else. You still push down, and sideways, and in quantity, but there is not emergent, real bottom up creation. It is created for you by the top and deployed at the bottom.
I am afraid we will have to do better than this to create a culture of real grassroots/bottom up. The change of geography in the activity is not enough.