Strategy Library

Countercurrent process

Within the framework of the countercurrent procedure, corporate goals are developed and their implementation planned. For this purpose, the overriding goals are first defined at the management level of the company without going into details.

Description of the countercurrent process

The subordinate hierarchies have to break these goals down into sub-steps and to evaluate and concretize them in terms of their feasibility. The resulting improvements are mirrored back to senior management as detailed plans, allowing coordination of the individual parts.

Thus, the countercurrent process combines planning from top management downwards as top-down planning with the feasibility of the lowest hierarchical level, which is communicated upwards as bottom-up planning. While top-down planning goes from top to bottom and becomes more and more concrete from the abstract or general, bottom-up planning is moving from the concrete to the general.

The top-down planning of the top management has the great advantage of enabling quick decision-making due to the manageable number of participants. However, the communication to the downstream levels can then lead to delays and falsification of the originally planned goals, resistance is also possible. In turn, the lower levels are included in the bottom-up planning, which gives the feeling there, to be able to participate in planning and decisions and to be able to influence them in the matter. The combination of both planning methods into a countercurrent process can result in higher organizational efficiency.

Countercurrent planning can not only be used as a strategic planning procedure, but is used in many different areas. So, it is a common planning method in politics and in the economy. In sociology they are used for the organization of social systems, in computer science for the development of new software. It even finds its way into management theory. Here the term top down denotes a leadership style that emphasizes the power of the manager, while bottom up is a manager who wants to motivate his employees and make the most of their abilities. The term countercurrent planning is also used in marketing and psychology.

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