The Problem with Methodologies and Why Frameworks Are Better
This guest post is by Laura Copas, Steve Sewell, and Change Troops.
Change Troops has noticed that projects, programmes, and change initiatives are becoming more complex. The biggest threat to their success is the way they are implemented.
Methodologies are all around. They offer the promise of easy ways to make personal or organisational changes if you follow the instructions.
Methodologies are the WMDs of Mass Delusion in our industry. They trick people into believing that there is a silver bullet that will unlock some magic.
What are Project Management Methodologies (PMM)?
What are methodologies? They are similar to recipes. You add specific ingredients and cook them in a certain way using a variety of tools and techniques.
The methodology you use to manage your project at work is the set of processes, documents, tools and techniques that your company requires. However, the people who cook the ingredients and the cooking utensils rarely have a clear view of how to prepare the recipes. Even a very skilled chef can change things as soon as they get into the kitchen. The success of any initiative can be influenced by the human factor. Consider what happens to a souffle when different people attempt to make it using the same instructions.
Methodologies: The Trouble
The souffle problem occurs exactly the same way with projects. People get involved in making things happen in an unpredictable way.
People are open to different perspectives and views. People are involved in projects. It’s the people who do the work and make the decisions. Your skills, abilities, likes and dislikes, habits, behaviors, and many other factors can all influence the direction or outcome of a project.
Change Behaviors: The Hard Part Of Projects
Change initiatives, programmes, and projects are all about changing behaviours, habits, and culture.
This is a complex task that requires energy and resilience. We have collectively learned this through experience.
If a methodology isn’t the best way for you to achieve the behavioural or cultural changes you want, what else would be?
Frameworks for managing complexity
Frameworks are the best way to navigate the complexities. What are frameworks?
According to the dictionary:
We suggest that structures for projects and change initiatives be based on principles.
Frameworks are not used to describe specific activities, but rather they frame specific activities and are built on key principles.
Imagine being asked to win a sporting trophy (say, the next World Cup). This is a complex activity that requires a lot of human factors. Is it possible for a methodology to work?
Is Gareth Southgate, current England men’s soccer team manager, able to find a formula that drives his success?
Evidence suggests that he has a framework. This structure helps him prepare for matches and train the players. The formations that the players use on pitch are all based on a set principles.
These frameworks can be adapted over time, driven learning and evaluation. The activities vary depending on the task, context, and capabilities.
While there will be a vast difference in how players will play against each other, such as Brazil and Finland, the preparation and training will be the exact same.
The same applies to change initiatives. When faced with different challenges, the variation in activities can be similar. A new head office building, for example, will present different challenges than a project that integrates technologies from multiple organizations.
Even if your role is project manager in the construction of the Head Office Building, which may appear simple but lacking in the kin,