November 14, 2013

Agile Process Improvement and the ‘Methodology’ Behind It!

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Future of Agile Leadership

Introduction The future of leadership is Agile There are many different types of leadership styles and not all work well in every situation. The most popular method, the "Command and Control" style which has been…

Business Agility Leadership Coaching (BALC) at HSBC

Business Agility Leadership Coaching (BALC) emerged as a consequence of asking leaders and managers across HSBC how they wanted to improve their agile leadership. Our proposed solution hit a sweet spot because we were 100%…

What does focussing on culture mean to XYZ Consulting?

We have some mid-tier consultants in at the moment who are "focussing on culture." Since we don't separate culture from delivering value to customers, I asked what that meant in practice. Apparently: "A generic scheme…

Visualising Progress using the Stand-up Game

We had a (brief) discussion about tracking progress as a team. I reacted against Jira because a) I dislike the user interface as it's a collaboration killer, and b) we aren't a software development or…
1 2 3 20
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram