Methodology bigots don’t fight—we just snub each other.

As a profession, we’ve unofficially agreed that too much open display of friction is not acceptable. Instead, those who think they independently own the holy grail express their pejorative views about frameworks other than their own by simply ignoring them.

Don’t get me wrong—we read each another’s books, articles, blogs, and websites—but mostly to confirm that what’s there isn’t worth pursuing in more depth. We even attend one another’s speeches and seminars, but primarily to engage in “stealth due diligence.” We’re sure that what we already have is the best approach to change but we are always on alert. You never know when someone outside the anointed circle might inadvertently stumble across something of substance.

Disagreement over who is “right” among experts within a field doesn’t mean much if that field or its SMEs are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. If helping to orchestrate major organizational transitions had little real bearing on the actual outcomes, all our divisiveness would be a benign non-event as far the rest of the world is concerned. The problem is, we say our profession is critical to change success and that the projects we work on make a difference. If this is the case, we have no excuse for the lack of respect that sometimes exists among proponents of the various approaches.

When methodology bigots do find something outside our frame of reference that impresses us, we usually chalk it up as an anomaly. We might even occasionally insert a particular concept, tool, or technique we stumble across into our well-entrenched model (with or without proper attribution). We see this, however, as nothing more than augmenting our already best-in-class approach…making it just a little bit better…no big deal.

We methodology bigots may think we’ve disguised ourselves to the point that no one knows of our exclusionary tendencies, but we are actually easy to spot if you know what to look for:

  • We prefer to interact only with change agents who share our same biases.
  • When confronted with other frameworks, we tend to have one or more of these internal reactions, even if our external dialogue is more polite:
    • “It’s overly complicated (or simplistic).”
    • “It has nothing new to offer.”
    • “My approach accomplishes the same thing—only better.”
  • When interacting with advocates of other methodologies, we spend most of our time waiting to talk, rather than being attentive.
  • We are more interested in providing answers than exploring questions; we feel compelled to teach, but have little time to learn.
  • We are comfortable being right, but not being vulnerable.
  • When discussing alternative approaches, we are more assumptive than inquisitive.
  • When asked to share lessons learned, we only discuss what makes us and our approach look good.
  • We have to make an effort to be pleasant when referring to other “obviously inferior” frameworks.
  • We are dismissive of, rather than intrigued by, what other methodologies have to offer.
  • We become bored (if not appalled) during discussions of alternative approaches.
  • We think that practitioners who pursue methodologies different from ours are naïve or second rate.

Next: The Ups and Downs of the “True Believer”

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