In business (and everything else), we’ve all got the same initial choice of what to do first. And it’s this: do you start with a Top Down or Bottom Up approach?
Top down means you start with a finished thing and reverse engineer it. Bottom up means you start with more or less nothing.
Before you read on, make that choice right now – think of something you want to do, and decide on whether you’re going for a top down or bottom up approach.
Spend no more than a couple of seconds on it, and don’t worry too much – just make the choice: top down or bottom up. Do it now…
Made it? Good. Write it down.
If you’re a top down person, you’ll have a complete blueprint of what to do next. A step by step approach. Sounds awesome. What could possibly go wrong?
If you’re a bottom up person, you’ll start straight away. No written plan. No delays. You’ll just do it, and continue to do it.
Bottom up means you start with nothing other than the simplest of ideas of what you want to do next (it may or may not have purpose). You just do stuff until something works (and by ‘works’ I mean you enjoy it for one reason or another).
And when you find something that works, you keep doing more of it until it stops working. Meanwhile you start doing other things that just might work – and keep doing those things until they stop working too.
If we look at the observable universe, it’s bottom up. Things happen as a consequence of the environment in which they find themselves, and whatever they do, in turn, then influences that environment. There is no obvious purpose to any of it (and that’s the point).
Both approaches work. But there’s a problem. Top down fails most of the time, whereas bottom up succeeds (or nothing would exist).
These are examples of two observable patterns. And the great thing for us is we get to choose. Are you fundamentally a top down or bottom up person? And how has that worked out for you?