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Lessons Learned From Fighting Ebola[Doctors Without Borders] is able to move so swiftly, in large part, because of its decentralized structure, which is more akin to a guerilla network than a top-down corporation. How To Manage A Plague, Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov 17, 2014.

Contrary to such notable initiatives such as the U.S. Affordable Care Act or The No Child Left Behind Act, a top-down corporate approach is usually not good for much except for maybe getting the most out of an already well functioning system.   If we need to do something new or fast or innovative then such rigid structures work against us.

For more see The Secret Of Innovation

Even the military, a classic top-down organization, has the notion of centralized control but decentralized execution.  Especially in chaotic, regularly changing or uncertain situations, having actions and decisions being made at the furthest reaches of the organization helps the organization to adapt rapidly.

Compare with Being Slightly Out Of Control Is A Good Thing

Of course, the organization as a whole must first have a unifying notion of what it is doing (e.g., preventing the spread of Ebola). Distribution of decisions should always be in a context of what the organization is trying to achieve overall.

For more on the value of context, see Context Is Critical To Making Successful Choices

Is your team nimble and empowered to make decisions or is it entrapped in a large bureaucratic top-down straight jacket?

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