We focus on Agile process improvement, but one of the Storm consultants came up with a very interesting point about one of our other well used phrases: methodology.
Now, Russ Lewis, the leader of Storm Consulting, is the occasional user of the word methodology as are many members of the team, but as colleague Richard Howells politely pointed out, the word is often used when the simpler word ‘method’ will suffice.
Methodology actually means the science of looking at methods. Therefore, we should be careful in future how we use one of our favourite phrases.
Which leads us into the wider debate of how we’re all guilty of using words and phrases which sound good, but are in reality, somewhat erroneous. But does this really matter? Okay, yes, we have to get the meaning right (we cannot go against the dictionary), but when it comes to the oft derided management speak, is it so bad that we let our imaginations fly?
The media are quick to point out that management speak is a pointless complication of existing phrases to make something sound more grandiose, or more creative than it actually is. Take the abused ‘thinking outside of the box’ phrase which is usually now met with hoots of derision. When hearing this from a client, a consultant will rightly groan. It usually means that the client has no idea what to do, nor have the consultants which have gone before. In short, a miracle is needed.
But the origins of ‘thinking outside of the box’ came from a well-intentioned desire to get people out of a rut. Taken dispassionately, the phrase does sum up an attempt to get the brain into gear and get moving in a new direction, something which complex IT projects need on a daily basis.
Another one of our favourites is ‘air cover’. This is a military phrase and uttered by a field commander who needs air support for his ground troops. In business terms, it’s usually used by operational management who need to get the okay from upstairs, in other words, covering their a***.
‘We need to get air cover for this…’ is a phrase which exactly sums up the position that most of us find ourselves in during every working day. It’s a superb ‘borrow’ from our colleagues in the military.
So, okay, yes, we will watch our use of the word methodology, but don’t expect us to use less management speak in the future, because we are big fans of our ever expanding and rich business language.
Because, of course, there is method in our madness!