Method is a trick that has been used twice, people say. Having a method for anything is hardly a negative in your stock. Being methodical is a praise. Methods are good. As a bonus, if you keep using them, and it leads you to success, you’ll save a lot of time and also you will be saved from the sinful, managerial ‘reinventing of the wheel’.
No wonder efficiency, efficacy, order, reliability and any other form of ‘stability’ thrives on methods.
But the term applies equally to the way to produce a screw or to produce cultural change. This is where we start having a problem. By keeping the concept of ‘method’ so broad, everything is a method.
However, you would not say that you have a method to stop working at 12 and go to cafeteria. Or a method to talk to your wife (OK, I am going to far here, you mean you do?).
It all sounds obvious, but terms and labels matters. Management has been inundated by ‘methods’; cultural change and change management being two prominent ones. The word ‘method’ provides legitimization and maturity to anything that follows the word. And this is where you may be trapped. Some methodologies are mythologies, as my spelling check seems to know.
In my view, ‘discussing methods’ is not always the right focus. It is the discussion of the ‘how to’ taking over the ‘what’ and, dare I say, the ‘why’.
I hate it when people refer to Viral Change™ as ‘my method’, although I fully understand why they do. We don’t compete on method, but on way of life and ways of operating. Yes, yes, yes, I know, this is a method. But I don’t want people to think of Viral Change™ or anything organizational in ‘methodological’ ways of the sort, slot a coin here and get culture at the bottom.
People ask me what my method to write Daily Thoughts daily is. I am supposed to have a trick (used 365 times a year). Share the trick (the coin) you can get the content (the money at the bottom). But I have no tricks. Other than start at the beginning, carry on, let in be in the oven, and stop at the end’. Mmm, I suspect a conversation for another day
Language is the tool we have to make sense of the world, I know. But that does not mean we have to accept concepts at their face value. Discussing methods (‘my method is better than yours, or cheaper, or different’) brings the conversation to its engineering side. Which could be good or bad. But the frame takes over.
My gut feeling and rule of thumb is that my spelling check is right. Its warning me about the easy life of accepting any methodology as something by definition solid, well crafted, tried and mapped. It’s asking me, do you mean mythology? check it out’