A bottleneck is a weak point in business management, which is loud Wikipedia “has the highest utilization in the entire process chain in a period of time and thus inhibits the workflow.”

Let’s imagine a real bottle from which we pour water into a glass. The outlet speed of the bottle is determined by the narrowest point, i.e. the bottle neck. The narrower the neck of the bottle, the less water gets into our glass. This metaphor has also established itself in business administration.

A bottleneck can often be recognized by the queue, which is limited by it, for example the water in the bottle. In business administration, different work processes often flow together in a bottleneck and are checked, for example, or waiting for decisions. If the bottleneck is too slow, the processes jam and there are waiting times.

But what does a bottleneck have to do with the management of a company? Surely you already have an idea and your own experiences.

Lack of time in management – central control becomes a bottleneck

The pressure on executive floors is increasing and more and more explosive and important decisions have to be made. Some managers seem to consciously turn themselves into a bottleneck from their own perception or from pressure from the organization.

We can tell by the overflowing diaries of managers rushing from one meeting to the next. If you want a meeting with such a manager you often have to ask a secretary for an appointment weeks in advance or prepare several 100 Powerpoints for a management meeting over a period of months. The managers described never have time and therefore they usually do not make any decisions. Especially for complex problems, you don’t have time to listen and you only make a decision under pressure. But then it’s always a hasty decision.

Unfortunately, the scenario described is not fun and it results in low productivity in organizations and slows them down. As a manager in a classic organization, you often and quickly become a bottleneck. I also think that after three medium-sized decisions a day you are simply too full in your head (change of context). First of all, the decision has to be understood and then the options have to be weighed. If as a manager you want to make a lot of decisions, you postpone such decisions or do not make them on the grounds: I don’t understand – you have to explain to me better. The decisions are never made afterwards.

But one possibility can be to transfer part of the “power” to the employee, especially with the many small decisions, and to make the organization quick and agile.

Distribution of responsibility – Management becomes decentralized and agile

One idea is to delegate decisions to the team according to agile methods and to get the right experts together depending on the degree of complexity. For example, we make a decision for an important customer account with sales and the IT architect.

I myself notice that I can really think about a maximum of 5 decisions per day (good day). I rather look at whether the reasoning for the decision sounds conclusive and then quickly say yes, ok, or I ask: ok: Which experts do you need to be able to discuss and make the decision.

I myself act as a moderator despite my leadership role. I make sure that speed and agility are maintained, but we still don’t take any risks, which is why I question decisions with specific questions.


As a manager, you quickly become a bottleneck. This has two disadvantages: on the one hand, you make the organization less productive and, on the other hand, you overload yourself with many decisions. You also lose a lot of time in which you should deal with the essentials of organizational development.

One possibility could be to take a back seat as a manager and to make decisions more decentrally with the help of agile methods. I also believe that with the current complexity and speed, it is hardly possible to make every decision in management in the classic way.

[werbung] [fotolia]

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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