Who cares about the methodology!

April 4, 2024



We often hear during risk and safety discussions that methodology does not matter, methods don’t matter, philosophy doesn’t matter, what matters is results, what matters is that whatever we set to achieve – we can achieve. And so, results matter, process is not important. Is that so?


What is a methodology?


Why do we need one?


Can we escape methodology and method?


What are we really saying when we say that methodology does not matter?


Can we ever abandon methodology?


What is the hidden message here?


What are the dangers of falling in the trap of a ‘methodology free’ world?


I hope this podcast will make you think and reflect on a simple question – what is your methodology when it comes to tackling risk?  And should that matter?


The podcast was done on a motorway whilst driving in Chennai, India. If you really want to enjoy the feeling of this podcast, I suggest watching it and not listening to the audio alone. The noise of the traffic and the feeling of being thrown around on bumpy roads makes it so much more fun. but of course, it is available both as an audio and video podcast. I hope you will enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed creating it for you.

Further information



Rob Long, Nippin, Matt Thorne


Nippin  00:01

Welcome to another episode of embracing differences with me Nippin Anand, a podcast aimed at understanding how human beings learn, unlearn, relearn, and make decisions based on transdisciplinary thinking. Now, we often hear during Risk and Safety discussions, that methodology does not matter. methods don’t matter. Philosophy doesn’t matter. What matters is results, what matters is that whatever we set to achieve, we can achieve. And so, the results matter process is not important. Is that so? What really is a methodology? Why do we need one? Can we expect escape methodology and method? What are we really saying when we say that methodology does not matter? Can we ever abandon methodology? What is the hidden message here? And what are the dangers of falling the trap of a methodology free society? I hope this podcast will make you think and reflect on a simple question. What is your method when it comes to managing or as we say, tackling risk? Has that anything to do with what is your methodology? The podcast was done on a motorway while driving in Chennai in India. If you really want to enjoy the feeling of this podcast, I suggest watching it and not listening to the audio alone. The noise of the traffic and the feeling of being thrown around and bumpy roads makes it so much more fun. But of course, it’s available both as an audio and video podcast. And so I hope you will enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed creating it for you. Here it is. Okay, hi, everyone. Hello, Matt. Nippin How are you? Good, good. Hello, Rob.


Rob Long  02:04

Lovely to be with you again. In Chennai? Yes.


Nippin  02:08

Such a wonderful communion. Yes, it’s. So we are on the way to Mahabalipuram, which is one of the most profound places to visit profound temples to visit. It’s perhaps one of the oldest ones in the Indian history, but on the way to Mahabalipuram, we thought we will do a podcast. And I thought, Robert, would be wonderful to speak about the whole idea of methodology, and why do we need a methodology? Because a lot of times we hear people speaking that, oh, it doesn’t matter what methodology you use, what matters at the end of the day is results. What matters is that things work out things work. And I think it’s, it’s I think it’s delusional, I think one needs to help people understand that why a methodology is important, but maybe starting off with the idea of what is a methodology? Why, and then coming to why it matters. What is the methodology, Rob, according to you?


Rob Long  03:19

Will a methodology is a philosophy, it’s nearly the same word in a sense, except the outcome of a philosophy doesn’t normally result in a method. The reason why the word methodology is good as it has the word method built into it. But anything that is an ology, you know, it doesn’t matter whether you’re studying crimes, criminology, or physiology, or biology, if you hear the ology in the end, it’s essentially philosophy. So methodology is the philosophy of method. And so there’s a lot of confusion around that, because I hear so many people in their language, think that the word methodology is actually the word method. And it’s not the two clearly distinctive things. We can have a method, which is the strategy in action by which we do something. And we can have the methodology, which is the philosophy that drives the method by which we do things. So the methodology is essentially the beliefs, the values, the ideas, the ontology, the often hidden assumptions that we make. And it’s from those things that a person’s action. Makes sense. And there’s also another thing here, which is there’s often whenever there’s incongruence, between a method and a methodology, sometimes you can trace backwards from the method and find what the real philosophy is. I’ll give you one example. The method of utilitarianism is the method of treating people as a utility as something to be used. And so I see a lot of people using other people, for some advantage or for some gain, they treat people like objects. And their philosophy is actually a philosophy of utility. In what way can you be used, I often see it in business where people will befriend someone else, not because they actually liked them, but because they can use them for an outcome for themselves. And that’s the philosophy of utilitarianism. And so the philosophy of utility, you can often see in a person’s method, and then you say to them, oh, that’s a utilitarian idea. It’s backed by a utilitarian philosophy that you don’t even know what you’re talking about. In the Risk and Safety world, that’s actually a huge problem. Because in that world, in that industry, there is no desire or interest in philosophy at all. It’s like, if you speak philosophy, then I’m not interested in what you say. I just want to see you do safety activities. So checklists and policing, regulation. Yes. It’s


Nippin  06:17

a very interesting thing. You say, Rob, because I think maybe this is where the idea of incongruence comes in. Because you say one thing, and you do another thing. You say to people that you care about people, but your actions actually say something completely different. Yes. Which is what I care about is money. What I care about is objects. What I care about is in a profit production, yes. And production. I think this is where it is so so important that and I think a lot of people may not clearly and this is also something important. So do you think that people are aware of their methodology wrong on?


Rob Long  06:56

I remember when I first met Matt, I think, Matt, can you articulate your ontology? Right. And I think he thought ontology was the brand of toothbrush, he’d never heard the word before. And now, whenever I talk to Matt, he, he knows what it means. And he knows and can now hear from his life experience. What people are saying, often week, I call a double speak as well. I mean, very few are to say to the average face safety person, can you explain your philosophy or what you believe in that we can’t? They don’t know.


Nippin  07:39

I think it’s your doesn’t have been something really powerful, which is the idea of pragmatism. And I think this is something that is on the minds of everyone, that who cares about the methodology? Who cares about the philosophy is the end, what matters is producing results? Say something more about this whole idea of pragmatism? I think it’s an important one. Well,


Rob Long  08:03

the end justifies the means, which is the utilitarian approach. The pregnant Matic person says, well, it doesn’t really matter, no matter what I do, as long as I get the outcome that I want. And so I find, often it’s driven particularly in risk and safety by statistics. So as long as I get the data that I can parade around in front of someone, it doesn’t really matter what happens on the way to that end. That’s a very, very, I mean, that’s a very dangerous philosophy. I guess another thing I’d like to say about methodology and ontology is you can’t have a methodology, or a theory of being without also having a very clear ethic. And, and an ethic is the outworking of a moral philosophy. So you’re not all these things interconnected. And when I see people, belittling other people, when I see them demonising other people, dehumanising other people, particularly in risk and safety, that’s a particular philosophy and, and might people might say, oh, that’s dishonest, or, you know, this is fake or this is fraudulent. There’s also a philosophy hidden behind that and that’s pragmatism is behind that. It doesn’t matter if I humiliate you. It doesn’t matter if I criticise you, as long as I get the outcome I want which is zero LT eyes, then it’s all justified. It’s all fine. And that is actually anti ethical.


Matt Thorne  09:48

harboured visceral pragmatism combined with a very, very ethical purpose. How would you see that?


Nippin  09:56

So for example, so for example, I you know, that, in the I know what my purpose is, which is to care for people. And then the next step is now look for methods and tools that actually work. How would you see that? Yes?


Rob Long  10:11

Well, I mean, I don’t see it in the risk and safety industry, I certainly see the medicine and Kay care professionals, I see with nurses, I mean, doctors, teachers, social workers. I mean, you do see people who do contradict that. But in general, those professions are caring professions. And they seek methods that demonstrate a philosophy of caring. And there is an ethical system called care ethics. Now, if you study those professions, you will have very early in their study, as you’re getting qualifications, you’ll be exposed to the philosophy of care ethics. And it’s very, very clear. And I know that to be so that in those degrees, when you study to be a nurse, or a social worker, or a school teacher, you get that exposure to care ethics, because it’s foundational to methods of care. If that does not exist in the risk and safety industry, there is no exposure at all to care ethics. In fact, the risk and safety industry is based on Kantian ethics, which has its own philosophy, which is very much based upon the idea of what they call natural theology, or what or natural, natural truth, and that’s that they’re on top ontology is, is the idea that my commitment in life is to duty. And I know my duty from higher above, through a natural order of things. And all I have to do to be an ethical moral person is to is to give a obedience and duty to those in power. And it doesn’t matter if the powerful corrupt, the the system and the methodology that drives Kantian ethics and Kantian philosophy dominates risk and safety. Absolutely. But the only trouble is risk and safety. It doesn’t know that that’s the methodology. And that’s


Nippin  12:22

very, again, very powerful, because you know, when you read incident investigations, or you read risk assessments or audit reports, and one of the things that frustrates people is that, why do you stop at establishing that the rule has been breached, or the procedure has not been followed? And why not dig beyond that? And I think many people don’t realise that precisely what you say, when the ethics is all about de ontology and about conforming with natural rules and natural laws, then there is no questioning left after that. No, no, because the next step could be that somebody was was being bullied or somebody was being being harassed, or somebody was being molested. But those things are not important. None, because they don’t, they don’t form part of the world we are


Rob Long  13:07

the church is not to people, not safety, the duty is to safety, or to the system, or to the system, or to the regulation. So that’s what deontological ethics is like, well, and so mine, for me, also, you started just one more tip, I hear we use the word common sense. That’s the same language they use for everyone should know who the authority is. And that’s, that’s, that’s natural law. That’s that’s natural, Kantian ethics. And it’s used to justify all sorts of wrong things, correct. Oh.


Nippin  13:43

And I think the reason why I brought up the idea of combining pragmatism with a strong ethic with a strong purpose is that not everyone is an academic, right? Not everyone has the depth of understanding now, but if people develop or people are able to articulate the ethic, well, people understand that they have a disposition towards listening more than judging towards understanding the other person more than more than putting them under pressure, then I think, then, having a method is secondary to that, you know, you then you could look for methods that are consistent with that, or you could, and that, I think, is a very, very important point to make here. Because a lot of people get very scared that you come to transdisciplinary thinking, and then you have to read 20 books before you can even get started. I think that’s that’s a misconception. What we’re trying to say here is that what you’re trying to say here is that the most important thing is to develop, to see another human being as a full human person is and to make that person where he or she is. And then everything else follows from there. Well, it should, it should. Yes,


Rob Long  14:46

yes, you’re right. You know, it’s even funny. Apart from myself, where I actually teach courses and raise the idea of ethics, you can’t find me On anywhere in the Risk and Safety world who teaches ethics that doesn’t exist. And if you ask some of these people who are quite dominant in their, in their theories and safety, what they ethic is they can’t tell you


Nippin  15:14

  1. And I think what people say when they say ethics does don’t matter, or what they actually mean is that they just, it’s, I think it’s mostly dismissive of the idea that somebody has taken so much time, so much effort to study all this, but it also means something else, Rob, which is that I’m not able to articulate it, so it doesn’t exist, it goes back to the Indian mythology, you know, where the pigeon pigeon sees the cat and the pigeon closes its eyes thinking that the cat will disappear, but the cat is still there. So, whether you like it or not, there is something sitting in you. In the Indian myth, we say that there are three goddesses well, actually there are more, but there are three goddesses. One is the Saraswathi. The other one is the Durga. And the third one is is the the Saraswati, the Durga, and the Lakshmi. So the Lakshmi is all about money, and power and progression. They the Durga is all about power. And the the Saraswathi is all about wisdom. So even if you see on LinkedIn today, there are people who would start a conversation by saying, I’m so humbled to say this, and I’m so humbled to say that, but what they’re saying is precisely Durga, which is there is, you know, that word humble has been taken completely out of proportion. And it’s all egocentric. And it’s all about power and progression. And this to me, that’s why I didn’t know they can speak this. Show off of the the authority, right. And then you have the Goddess Lakshmi, which is all about money, which is all about wealth, which is, you know, what is my package? What is my package? You know, the moment you want to get a new job? What’s my package? what’s on offer? Yeah. And that’s, that’s their ontology that’s there. And then you have, you have the Goddess Saraswathi, which sits right on your tongue, actually, which is wisdom, which is wisdom, which is how you speak? Yes. And I think that’s very, very powerful. Because once you get Saraswathi, there is a chance that you will get both Durga and Lakshmi. Yeah. But once Durga sets in you, and you become so drawn to power, you soon find yourself in a very, very miserable place after a little while, because all you care about is power, and you have no relationships.


Rob Long  17:47

At the time, though, I find it so interesting. Because in a platform like LinkedIn, I had to get off it because I find the whole of LinkedIn completely toxic. But a lot of people don’t know they’re actually harming themselves in the process, a lot of talk about success, minded


Nippin  18:11

off and I gave the analogy of this Saraswathi, the Durga and the Lakshmi. My point really was that whether you like it or not, we all have a methodology, we all have a philosophy in life, the only problem is you’re not able to articulate it. And because you’re not able to articulate it, you actually confuse people with your messages. You say one thing, you do another thing, and people develop a mistress for you. So what you’re running away from by saying that there is no such thing like methodology, or it does not count is, is the the only thing you’re running away from is the ability to articulate what you really believe in. And if you think you don’t believe in anything, then I think it’s a very dangerous place to be in Yes.


Rob Long  18:54

And I’m glad Can I just raise these three gods or these three energies? I find it absolutely fascinating. When I see people, the only God is themselves, or the only God is money. And then they laugh at someone else for talking about gods. And on a bit, I’ve got a secular God, and no concept at all, that they’re actually their strength and their power of worship is I’d rather go to a temple and watch people worshipping, because when


Nippin  19:29

you live a brain centric life, when you live life on top of your shoulders, all you care about is being rational and logical. It doesn’t matter whether you connect with yourself or not. And therein lies a problem that you might meet. You may be very consistent in the way you come across in those 20 minutes. When you go back home, and somebody else becomes the victim of that. And I think that’s where you become neurotic psychotic. You live that split personality but you’re so consistent in your message. But when it comes to three You think other people in the way you say? It’s just the opposite the


Rob Long  20:03

opposite? Yes. I think that’s probably a good way to stop.


Nippin  20:07

I think so. Yes. Great. Bill, as you want to say something



on the screen, compositionally, it’s really helpful to open up a lot of things in methodology, thought it was just a part of that. But it’s a very different concept from what I was thinking. So it really opened my eyes, a new inspection on on seeing things and how things are done. And what are the ethics and purpose behind the things? Yes, it was really, very good.


Nippin  20:37

Thank you. That’s really nice. When when somebody who has so far away from philosophy can connect with it. Yeah, it really goes to show that you have a consistent message. And why do we have a consistent message because we have a methodology to live to live by, isn’t it? Great. Great. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. If you have enjoyed listening to this podcast, many more podcasts are available on our website. novellus dot solutions forward stroke knowledge space. The podcast embracing differences is available on Spotify, pod bean, Apple podcasts and anchor. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel team developers. That way, every time we publish a new podcast, you will get to know you want to find out more about our work, visit us at novellus.solutions or simply write to us at support@novellus.solutions. Thank you for wanting to learn more than you knew yesterday. And until we meet again. Goodbye and have fun