Product Management Approaches: Top Down, Bottom Up or Both

When planning and working on your product’s vision, objectives, roadmap, and backlog, you have a lot to think about as a product manager, including where the input for all of these elements comes from. You may either adopt a “top down” strategy based on orders from senior executives, or a “bottom up” approach based on your ideas and working your way up.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

What do we mean by a “top down” approach ?

Top-down administration, often known as command-and-control, is frequently the default. Power and decision-making typically remain in the hands of people at the top under this hierarchical management system. The flow of information is usually sluggish and exclusively in one direction. It is up to the rest of the team to put the leadership’s vision into action.

In Product Management, A top-down approach begins with your product’s vision and strategy. What is the purpose of creating this product in the first place? What are your objectives? In some ways, failing to start with the vision and strategy is akin to constructing a house without first laying the right foundation; none of the other phases in the construction process, nor the quality of your other building materials, will matter.

Benefits:

  1. Reduces Cost
    Lower-level employees, such as individual team members, have the flexibility to complete and focus on their duties, which are specific to their jobs, because upper management is responsible for defining and selecting corporate goals.
    Employees in this category aren’t burdened with the task of defining company-wide objectives. As a result, they may concentrate on their own duties and tasks.
  2. Better Management There is no misunderstanding when tasks are chosen and passed down the corporate hierarchy after being decided by higher management, because all the goals are defined by these persons in upper management. As a result, outside viewpoints will have no impact on the objectives and duties because they all come from the same source.

What do we mean by “Bottom-up” Approach?

Bottom-up management entails casting a broader net and empowering people at all levels of the company. The activities and goals for the entire organization are based on feedback from employees at all levels under this method. Teams and individuals have more control over how they approach work and are more likely to set at least some of their own goals and objectives.

In Product Management, When modifications are made, our roadmap displays a list of activities and objectives that will be impacted. We need more information, we need to be lean and agile, and we need to be able to adjust our product management strategy depending on what we learn along the road in order to accomplish these objectives. That is why we must break down those huge projects into smaller, more achievable improvements. For that we need ideas.

Our product backlog is a collection of ideas — modifications that may (or may not) be implemented to improve the product. These concepts are derived from customer feedback, internal stakeholders, or even market and competition research, all of which comes under a bottom-up approach.

Benefits:

  1. Greater employee engagement
    Employees are more motivated and inclined to connect more deeply with their job when they believe their voice is being heard and that they are contributing to the corporate goal, resulting in better levels of engagement and productivity.
  2. Feedback System
    The ability to give leadership with feedback adds value to an employee’s day-to-day job. They’ve got insight into the company’s future path as a result of their work and expertise.
  3. Reduce the likelihood of surprise teams with unplanned procedures
    Because the direction was established with the team’s involvement, it should reflect the issues and solutions that were communicated through the feedback.
  4. Diversification
    Many of them will bring fresh ideas to the table as well as distinct perspectives on the business. According to research, teams and organizations that draw on a wider range of viewpoints and experiences are more inventive.

Google vs Apple

Google has a strong bottom-up mentality and values data-driven decision-making. Before any of Google’s products are released, they are subjected to rigorous number crunching and analysis (well, for the most part). It might be tough to justify a fresh new product since there may not be enough previous evidence to back it up.

On the other hand, Apple is guided by its vision. There is a lot of user research that goes into the idea, but they have consistently built new products that generate a completely new market that didn’t exist before. They’ve shifted the company’s emphasis so many times that it now impacts more than half of their income and users.

You make the choice!

The distinctions between top-down and bottom-up management are important, with each having its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the choice is entirely yours. Which of these two management approaches would you select now that you know more about them?

Zeda.io aims to make Product Management and Development Simpler & Smarter. We write about Product Management, Product Design, Product Development, and startups.