The trouble with top-down management & the case for cascading loops

Driving long-lasting change requires commitment from all levels of your organization, not just from the top.

The solution for sustainability is not top-down
While a top-down approach can work for certain situations, we do not recommend top-down management when it comes to reaching ambitious targets related to sustainability and inclusion. Here’s why:

☔ Top-down management inhibits curiosity, creativity, and proactivity.

☔ Top-down management reinforces the “status quo,” creating static, non-resilient cultures.

☔ Top-down management creates a greater distance between decision-makers and people “on the ground,” causing employees to feel disconnected from the company’s mission and values.

☔ Top-down management disengages teams who are not involved in decision-making, resulting in unhappy employees with little autonomy.

☔ Top-down management does not take into account that “the top” doesn’t know everything, and that certain knowledge or expertise is present on other levels of the company. 

So, what’s the solution?

Enter cascading loops: Co-creating solutions to achieve big goals
In a system built on cascading loops (also known as the “reverse cascade”), leaders share high-level strategy and larger goals with the rest of the organization. Employees, in turn, co-create solutions, with everyone working in tandem – from executives to senior leaders to mid-level managers to lower-level employees. Cascading loops can:

⚒️ Foster a stronger sense of ownership for employees as they take responsibility for transformation.

⚠️ Bring critical issues to the forefront that leaders might not have identified.

📣 Allow leaders to convey information that is most relevant to everyday business.

🔅 Promote a lean process.

Leaders: Put cascading loops into action with Gemba
One way leaders can get in touch with what’s actually happening within their organizations is by embracing “Gemba.”

Gemba is Japanese for “site” or “scene” – the place where the action is happening. When applied to management, Gemba essentially refers to the place where value is created. The most common use of the concept is in manufacturing, where Gemba is the factory floor. As a leader, you can do what’s called a “Gemba Walk,” where you simply observe and try to understand the process. This encourages greater communication, transparency, and trust between employees and leadership – you might find that the best ideas and knowledge come from those who are closest to the work.

At Limelights, we drive workshop-driven cascades, bringing teams and employees from different levels together in a series of sessions to blend expertise and cross-pollinate. While the strategy and objectives are usually clear (and set by leadership), the way to achieve them can be co-created with different stakeholders and employees.

What’s the takeaway here? ➡️ Treat your employees like the adults that they are. Engage with them to co-create solutions to achieve your big goals.

👉 Start implementing cascading loops within your organization today! Get in touch with us to learn more.

One solution to all your sustainability challenges.

We believe companies, especially the people within them, are the ones who have the opportunity to draw a positive path forward. Let us show you how.
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