The three biggest pitfalls in top-down improving

Traditionally speaking, most companies use a top-down approach, with management using a strong directional approach. What are the biggest pitfalls in the improvement process?

What is a top-down organization?

A top-down organization is guided from the top. Vision and strategy are drafted by management and implemented in the organization. Employees are informed and firmly managed. It has the following pros and cons:


  • Management draws up the plans and stands behind them.
  • Policy and plans are aligned.


  • Employees may not feel a connection with the company direction, leading to less support for management ideas.
  • Employee knowledge and ideas aren’t fully utilized.

Pitfalls in top-down improving

When management steers the improvement process one-sidedly, substantial pitfalls have to be taken into account:

  1. Management doesn’t have enough substantial knowledge to draft the right improvement initiatives on the work floor.
  2. Management can’t properly prioritize work floor improvements.
  3. And the most important one: there’s no support for the plans. When no one on the work floor supports the plans, the plans are destined to fail.

Successful improving in a top-down organization

To improve in any organization, a certain amount of cooperation and balance between the work floor and management is necessary. To improve in a top-down organization, it’s essential to mobilize the base of the organization too. Use whiteboard meetings to listen and explain, so all members are on the same page. Learn from employee knowledge, because you can only successfully improve together!

Curious how it can be done differently? Read our blog five-tips-for-improvement-in-a-decentralized-organization



Cierpa Software enables you to improve your organization continuously. LEAN manufacturing changes your work floor processes towards better and faster results and ultimately reduces any waste. With our LEAN software for companies, it’s possible to manage this ongoing process quickly and easily. Our Cierpa improvement consultants can also offer help.

Techniques and methods like 5S audit, Kaizen, OEE and the underlying LEAN thought principles are at the very core of our software suite. With Cierpa OEE, Cierpa Kaizen, Cierpa Quality, Cierpa Competence and Cierpa Assessment, Cierpa Software really speeds up all your improvement processes!

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The three biggest pitfalls in top-down improving