Enjoy this snippet of Just Do This describing what a Methodology is in more detail
Why a Methodology?
A methodology must be:
- Universal. The entire team (management, contractors, and everyone else) must understand WHY. This is the key to having everyone using the same methods. This keeps goals achievable and recognizable by everyone in the organization—from Sales to the Service Desk to Management. Everyone must understand it.
- Goal-Oriented. Each step indicates the goal, not the effort by which the goal is achieved. It is how we think, and the method should reflect just that. After all, the efforts to achieve a goal will change, based on the need!
- Easy to Remember. You should be able to quickly recall and communicate to others where you are in the process. I used to refer to “Change” as “Deploy” just as I used to refer to “Plan” as “Design,” but then I found that just having the first letter the same was causing confusion. Moreover, what if the task at hand didn’t imply a design but a quick change? The notion of an entire design was exhausting when only a plan was needed! So, I changed the name. Doing so seriously delayed the project. You’ll still find me slipping old names in every now and again, but if you’re new, I am confident these simplified descriptions for each phase will stick with you.
- Simply Understandable. It must make sense! The words I chose reflect this. You might be looking at them and wondering why a whole book needs to be written around them. If that’s the case, the first part of my mission has already been accomplished! Contrast this with complicated terms in ITIL, Agile, or other methods and you’ll immediately understand why I wanted to create a system that doesn’t require a certification or degree for everyone to implement. Everyone is invested, as a result.
- Repeatable. The process should never be closed off. You should always present the opportunity to improve. The common saying in the Open Source community is that you would never buy a car with the hood welded shut, so the process should be mindful of repeating itself, on purpose—not because it failed, but because it succeeded!
- Part of your Daily Process. You must be able to live in this methodology on a daily basis, especially if you have multiple projects going on. I encourage project managers to include an awareness of not only where a project is in the process but where it is going next. They can then best communicate with management and project members alike the tasks needed for the day, even if they are working on multiple projects at once! Ideally, this means that even your daily emails should include where you are in the steps for a particular call to action or status update.
- Adaptable. It must be relevant to multiple situations. If the sales people and engineers are in line with the phase their customer is currently at with a project, they can both adapt their strategy accordingly.
In my research, I found several companies displaying complicated methodologies on their websites. Some were so complicated that I stopped reading after two of fourteen steps, because I had lost interest—and I was searching for it, specifically! If you cannot simply and effectively explain your purpose, you will lose your audience and possibly even your own focus.
I also wanted to use words that can describe and pertain to more than just a single project. I literally want this to be a lifestyle for the technology world. The more we can speak the same language, the more we can quickly succeed together.
So, keep it simple! You don’t have to use my exact words, but the key is to use SOMETHING and to use it consistently in everything you do! I recently researched more than 10 IT Services companies, and common threads emerged. It is those common threads on which we will focus. What I found to work in companies in the long term are simple methodologies that everyone could understand. More steps and more complicated descriptions led to siloes in adoption of a methodology. My encouragement would be to keep it simple and JUST DO THIS.
Football and Methodology
In the United States, many of us are borderline if not completely obsessed with football (not soccer, but follow me because this is going to work for both sports). One particular obsession is fantasy football. Fantasy football is aptly named, because it is a concept of putting a bunch of the best players you can find together on a fictional “team” and seeing how well the stats work out.
Let us go a step further and pretend this could actually happen in real life.
What if we could get the absolute best players in the game all on one “super team” and let them play everyone else? Now, we know these players have talent, knowledge, and the ability to perform at a peak level of what humans can do. So, we are going to let them just play the game the way they think it should be played, because they are the experts, after all.
Let’s put them up against a team of rookies. That team will run drills and learn plays. Above all, they will be coached in such a way that there is a universal coverage of all duties by the players—more than having only the best at each position.
Who do you think would win?
I would put my money on the team of rookies with a good coach over the team of high-performing experts, any day of the week. This is because even the most talented individuals—if not unified in a plan of action that is repeatable, predictable, and well-defined—will stumble. A team not possessing the ability for multiple members to be able to perform the tasks of others when needed will be outmatched by preparation and methodology. Egos will take the place of teamwork. This is human nature.
Yet a shocking number of IT teams and consultants perform their jobs as a collection of experts, tripping over each other, arguing, and often taking steps to sabotage each other, simply because they don’t have a system in place that lets success be measured by collective results rather than individuals not achieving. When things go wrong, there is a race to find someone to blame. When things are missed, lack of experience is blamed, at times, but quite often it is the individual that gets fired for missing the mark.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Now, what if you had a team of high-performing individuals who submit to a process of coaching, discipline, and willingness to go after progress down the field instead of looking for the “big play” that will boost their stats? How do you think that team will do? I believe they would win the Super Bowl!
I grew up watching a particular US football team called the Pittsburgh Steelers. Up until 2019, they had won more Super Bowls than anyone. That team with a powerful legacy has only had three coaches since 1969. Those three coaches have some of the most amazing winning statistics from teams that produce fairly few Pro Bowl participants. You would think that the team would be dominating either the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl every year, right? Yet, aside from obvious standout stars, it is how the team performed as a whole that makes them contenders, year after year, getting to the playoffs more consistently than their peers.
I tell people all the time that the Denver Broncos weren’t my team, even though I lived 40 years in Colorado. It was because I did not agree with the way they were coached. Their proclivity towards seeking talent over guidance as a cohesive unit shows in the sheer number of coaches they have had and the number of player trades made. My allegiance was far outside of my state simply because of how I have grown to admire a process being more successful than individual “experts.”
Are the Steelers perfect? Heavens, no. With pride comes the occasional fall, and I have been known to go hoarse from yelling at my own team to stop making stupid mistakes and getting penalties that cost them games. Yet, I remain a proud member of Steeler Nation for the reasons that it is about the team working together (more than the talent of an individual). One need only look at what was often called “The Steel Curtain” and some of the cohesive plays that took place during that and other eras, which provides endless entertainment and excitement. Even games that were lost still felt like wins when there were plays you end up talking about for decades.
It is with that overall attitude that I approach this process. I believe each one of you, regardless of your level of experience, can grow into a successful career with less stress.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this part of the introduction of my book! Pick up a copy soon!