The myth of methodology

The myth of methodology is, in short form, the belief that a playbook exists for innovation and… it removes risk from the process of finding new ideas. It’s the same wish that fuels secret lists for time-saving gadgets, tasty but low-fat meals (ha), and five-step programs for . And like other myths, this sells faster than truth, explaining the films, novels, and infomercials that play on it.

Scott Berkun, describing one of the myths of innovation.

I’ve recently been getting frustrated with books that offer a methodology with little discussion of the context in which the methodology was developed and tested. The books seem to be written with the expectation that you to follow the methodology to the letter.

At this point in my career, I’m often annoyed by this kind of methodology from on high. I’m much more interested in the details and the context. I’m interested in stories about what happens when people actually get their hands dirty.

But earlier in my career, I think these are exactly the types of books I sought out. Berkun suggests that methodologies reduce risk. In my case, I think I was looking for a way to get started. These books provided a framework, something that I could copy. This almost never worked out. Something almost always went wrong. I realize now that this is OK. You take a methodology, attempt to implement it, expose its flaws, and tweak it for the situation that you find yourself in. Along the way you’re developing the knowledge and skills that you need to evaluate the next methodology that comes along.