Method Cancer—Diagnosis, Elimination and Avoidance
Methods are fabulous. They help us to structure things; gain clarity; filter out what is correct and important and to communicate appropriately in this context. This is why, quite rightly, they are appreciated and I myself am also a big fan of methods. There are numerous really helpful methods precisely for strategy development, for implementation and for the management of change processes. However, as helpful as they can be you must be very careful not use them as a matter of habit—according to the motto “What was good once is always good.” Or “Lots helps a lot”. Because a method which has been declared a panacea, which is used time and again regardless of the exact circumstances, cannot fulfil its actual purpose. Because special interrelationships logically demand special methods, procedures and conceptual and decision-making models. In other words, another context, another method. The fixation on exact adherence to a method is also not conducive to finding a solution. Because once the method has become an end in itself the actual mission to find a solution will, in cases of doubt, be lost for too long in the obsession with accuracy for it to still be possible to save it. And, finally, the application of methods which have not been understood can also result in a lot of damage. The fact that, in some cases, even text books and best practices describe methods and their application incorrectly is already a clue that this is by no means an uncommon phenomenon. Specialist literature, for example, frequently presents the SWOT analysis as an instrument for strategy development, which is absurd. A SWOT is a snapshot of a specific situation. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are, however, only crucial with regard to an exact strategy option, since otherwise the assessment of a factor as a strength or weakness can be completely misinterpreted or meaningless. The context is decisive. Or it is suggested in all seriousness that, to achieve the highest possible degree of acceptance, as many of the individuals affected by an implementation project are included in the planning process as possible although this will, in many situations, effectively strangle the process.