Why methodology matters?

June 27, 2024



We hear every now and then that methodology does not matter, it is a topic for academic discussions. What really matters is results, success and outcome. Is that true? I just returned from Canberra and wrote a paper on this topic. I hope this podcast will make you think and reflect on your own methodology in risk and safety and why we should talk about methodology

Further information





Nippin  00:01

Welcome to another episode of embracing differences with me. Nippin Anand. Anand a podcast aimed at understanding and promoting transdisciplinary ways of living and thinking, meaning, assimilating different viewpoints, different subjects, different disciplines, but focused on a very simple question, how do we human beings, learn, unlearn, relearn and make decisions, and how can we tackle risks in an uncertain world? Why should we care about methodology? Does methodology really matter? What is the difference between methodology, methods, models, tools, etc. One hears every now and then that a methodology does not matter. At the end of the day, we must achieve outcomes. We must achieve success. That’s all that matters, really. I mean, I have been thinking about this topic for some time now, but only after I came back from Australia, after visiting the city of Canberra, it all became so much more clear to me why I have always believed that methodology comes before everything else. Let’s just talk about that in this podcast. By the way, I have written a paper on this on my website, novellas, dot solutions, and you can read that paper. But I know a lot of people these days enjoy listening more than reading, so I thought I’ll turn this into a podcast as well. So I have just returned from Canberra, which I believe is a city built on imagination, and it’s the imagination of one woman called Marian Mahoney Gryphon. We will come back to this woman of genius. But first, let us focus on the power of our imagination, which goes back from nearly a century ago. The term Canberra actually comes from an Aboriginal word which I find very difficult to pronounce, but let’s just call it gabra, which means the meeting place. The design of Canberra is precisely what it says on the tin. It’s a place for meeting. I walked around Canberra for two weeks, and I felt like I was living the imagination of this woman, Marian Mahony, Gryphon. Canberra, with its lower density, extensive open spaces, green hilltops and Parkland foreshores, is unlike any other major city, London, Tokyo, Islamabad, Cairo, Washington, New York, Beijing. There is no other city in the world that comes close to the ecological and egalitarian design of Canberra. To put things in perspective, the whole human race could fit in within the half of South Australia if we lived as densely as Beijing’s population. Likewise, the entire human race could fit in the Northern Territory of Australia if we lived as densely as London’s population. And By contrast, the entire human race could fit in South America if we lived as densely as Canberras population. Now this should tell us something about the whole place, that the world is not as space deficient as we humans have turned it to become. As the famous Marxist David Harvey always said, Most cities around the world follow the principles of uneven development, which means that the rich and the elite deliberately shrink the space to create a flow of capital, and in so doing, they artificially inflate the property prices in one part of the world or the city at the expense of the other. Marion Mahoney Griffin’s imagination of Canberra actually transcends capacity and greed to create equality so that the marginalised and the non privileged are not deprived of space. There are very few shopping malls. Canberra was envisioned as a non commercial city. The suburbs of Canberra are designed with walkers and bikers in mind, footpaths and cycling paths cut through the streets and make way up to the outskirts of the city and the bush reserves in the outskirts. No matter how far you cycle to or walk, road networks and railways will never come in your way. There is a strong sense of idealism and social purpose built into the design of Canberra, the city has multiple storage facilities and communal kitchen gardens for those who cannot afford their private spaces. I went to many temples and churches and all religious faiths. House in Canberra are entitled to a free space by their local municipality. The design of Canberra makes it possible for communities to live together in houses that can fit together into the natural environment and with many playgrounds and parks for the children to play as an outsider, it was very interesting that safety signage is kept to a bare minimum, particularly when you come from the oil city of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, there are many recreational spaces for the disabled around the city, which means the children in wheelchairs are also entitled to having a life full of play and fun. In a book published by Glenda corporal, which I picked up whilst I was in Canberra. The book is called making, making manage. Sorry, making magic. The American journalist writes about the design philosophy of Canberra and explains city planning was not a mechanical drafting board of fare later to be imposed upon the earth, destroying whatever got in the way. In planning of Canberra, every detail of the natural conditions was thoroughly studied in order to preserve them and to make the most of which each and everything, so that a city can indeed be a living thing, a healthy, growing thing. Mark the words the author explains that a city is carefully designed to fit into the landscape, fall under contours of the topography with as little damage to the natural surroundings as possible, if you want to put it another way, the design of Canberra works with nature and not against it. The world is not as perfect as but but the architecture of Canberra exhibits a delicate balance between an idealist vision of a woman and an unequal world. I started to miss Canberra the moment I landed in Perth. Perth is one of those cities caught between traditional and modernism admit new structures planted in the middle of old buildings, one output of rain showers and the drainage of Perth, like all modern architecture built on our technique becomes dysfunctional. Like most modern cities in the world, Perth exhibits the short sightedness of modern management, driven by measurement, space optimization and efficient, design, measurement, technique and efficiency, the religion of the modern world. A woman of genius. As I read about this woman of genius, I’m filled with awe. Marian was an architect, a designer, an artist, an environmentalist, a community leader and a theosophist, which means a theologian, a theologian and a philosopher. This makes her work truly transdisciplinary, which means that her imagination was not constrained by a single theory or the politics of a single discipline, as I researched about her life and work, I came to uncover some interesting facts about this woman of genius. Quote, Marin mahani, who was born in Chicago and grew up in vineta, started a career working for Frank Lloyd Wright, an American organic architect, and she worked for Wright for several years in a man’s world, Mahoney was more often known by her married name and her work with her husband, Walter Burley, Gryphon, Mahoney were the second woman to gain a degree in architecture from MIT when in 1898 she passed the Illinois state licensure exam. She was probably the first woman in the US to be licenced as an architect, Mahony was overshadowed by Wright, and especially by her own self assessment and devotion to the work of her husband. Now many attributes attribute, much of the graphic style of right to Mahony, where she was right’s chief draughtsman. Notice the word. Historians credit Mahoney with at least half the drawings in rights, rights portfolio that had been called one of the most influential architecture treasures of the 20th century. Wright never acknowledged her contribution to the work published in Germany in 1910 unquote at one point at the Museum of History, I noticed Marion’s picture frame with the husband, Walter Burley Gryphon. The picture depicts her husband, Mr Gryphon, at the same height, although in reality, Mrs Gryphon was at least six inch taller than her husband.


Nippin  09:39

These little, little step snippets into her life, and the framing of Griffin’s picture tells us so much about the life struggles of this genius and how the masculine world consistently ignores the potential of a woman. As I read her work, I became fascinated by the power of Griffin’s imagination and how she pursued her purpose whilst. Being success and fame to a husband living 1000s of miles away from Canberra, she created the architecture for Canberra without any craving for success, wealth or power. As I walked the streets of Canberra, I was so privileged to be part of a dream, a world without dreams and visions. Today, many of us squabble endlessly about methods, techniques and models, trying to protect our trivial concepts and egotistical views with IP rights and copyrights. A World Without imaginations seems so threatened when one person takes another person’s concepts and claims them as theirs, we become deeply insecure about the limited knowledge that we hold on to ourselves to be sure, I don’t encourage plagiarism either, and I sympathise with people who fight these IP wars. I understand that original ideas are hard to create, and in a world where a blog can claim you authorship, everyone is an expert without your unique methods and models, you are just a disposable seller in a long queue of consultants. Yet the wisdom of Marion Mahony Gryphon and nearly every visionary who has walked this planet tells us that without imagination, the tools that you carry around your methods, models, IPS and copyrights are merely a set of algorithms waiting to be commoditized by artificial intelligence. When you wake up tomorrow without imagination, we are just cogs in a wheel. Humans factored into a system a vision to create something larger than life, like the city of Canberra starts with dreams and imaginations. It is interesting that in the leadership discourse today, we don’t come across words such as dream, vision or imagination. Instead, what we hear is strategy, goals, objectives and outcomes. Success matters. Outcome matters, but the success of the ideas and the ability to imagine hardly gets the desired attention. Canberra would not have been the city as we experience it today, if Gryphon was motivated by greed, power efficiency or space optimization in designing Canberra, Gryphon did not imagine an outcome or a mechanical process. Instead, Gryphon believed the possibility of a space where human beings could work closely with the forces of nature. And this brings me to the heart of this writer, why methodology matters. When you ask someone today, what is your methodology, most people are put off by a futile intellectual discussion, not me, please, but methodology is not some academic gobbledygook. Your method. Your methodology is your choice to live and how you view the world. Your methodology is your worldview. Your methodology is what you believe in. Your methodology sets the limits of your imagination. Your methodology is your truth, that single truth for which you will live and die. Your methodology serves as a medium to bring your beliefs to the surface. We think that research is some objective exercise unveiling what was not known to us earlier yet, even an open exploratory research cannot escape the beliefs of the researcher at the limits of their imagination. For instance, why do we research specific topic? Why do we ask a specific question? Why do we choose one method over another, and why do we eventually settle on one answer over another? These are not matters for science to answer. These are beliefs headed the held at the deepest level of our of our being, and mostly they are unconscious to us. The question, therefore, is not so much whether a methodology matters or not. The question is, are we aware of our methodology? Many students I have met and supervised start with a master’s dissertation or a PhD thesis without pondering about their methodology. How interesting that we strive to make sense of the world without knowing what we really believe in, and if you don’t believe know what you believe in, then what is there to defend? No human being has ever escaped the curse of belief. No research can be value neutral. The father of Western psychology segment, Freud, did not believe the God exists. Charles Darwin, too did not believe God exists. By contrast, the British writer and theologian C S Lewis believed otherwise, but all these renowned scientists were victims of early years of trauma which radically shifted their beliefs about the world. Some embraced religion, while others put it as. Side tastes or atheists, business or charity, consumption or preservation, Buddha or Muhammad, name for celebrate, hermit or householder. At the deepest level, we all believe in something. And the point is this, the universe does not exist in isolation from what we believe in. Deep inside, we are moral beings, and some things are inherently wrong and right to us. During one of my workshops, I noticed a woman of a specific faith, even being a renowned social scientist, refused to touch the photo of a phallus. She later said she found it very awkward, even science cannot escape belief. And what is most interesting, belief precedes science and scientific inquiry, your method serves as a medium to articulate your belief to yourself and to others. Coherence. Let’s approach methodology from another angle. Think of a theory or a life principle that has served you through your life. A theory appeals to you because it gives you a coherent view of the world. Coherence is an important aspect of methodology. Having a coherent view of how we should live life gives meaning to our experiences. Coherence is the glue that binds our inner experiences with the outer world. Phenomenon coherence is when things make sense. Without coherence, everything seems senseless. Take coherence away, and people experience cognitive dissonance, which explains why we live and die by our beliefs and myths. Your methodology, whether in life or otherwise, gives you a coherent view of the world. And here are some coherent methodologies in risk and safety, which give you meaning and sense in the world. Behaviourism, discipline, punish and reward, suits you and your belief because your view people as a problem to be controlled. Utilitarianism, measurements and metrics suits you your belief because you see people as an object to be measured in pursuit of a greater goal. Nothing wrong with it. Deontology, following predetermined processes, suits your worldview, because you see people as erratic, unpredictable beings in a stable, predictable world.


Nippin  17:31

New view of safety, or safety differently. The infamous slogan, people are a solution, or people as a solution, works for you because you believe that the world is chaotic, and it is ultimately down to people who create order out of chaos, just culture. You believe that the world is unfair. The oppressor works against the oppressed, and it is your duty to bring justice to the oppressed, sometimes without a clue of how the legal system actually functions. Is one methodology better than the other. That is beside the point. The thing that frustrates most people is incongruence. You are congruent about your methodology when you say what you do. On the other hand, when your beliefs, your thoughts and your actions become incoherent to the others, that is incongruence, and it comes across as dishonest and double speak. If, as a leader, you set yourself to humanise your workplace and the first thing on your mind is to set up dashboards and measurements. Your approach is incongruent. If you claim that you don’t want to blame people when things go wrong, and then come up with a just culture process to evaluate behaviour, your approach is incongruent. If you say people matter in your organisation and your management review report is filled with statistics and objects, your approach is incongruent. Your actions are not aligned with your own views, and whilst everyone else can observe this inconsistency, you remain convinced and largely unconscious of your own self. I don’t think people are dishonest exceptions made to psychopaths and sociopaths. I think the problem is of incongruence. And this incongruence happens because so few of us think through our methodology in life, and because we are largely unconscious of what we believe in. Interestingly, also, unless the unconscious is made conscious, and unless there is congruence, congruence between the unconscious and the conscious, the unconscious will prevail. That is also why so many of us become trapped in a midlife crisis, neurosis, psychosis, which is split personality, and lose the ability to imagine and create. Your methodology. Is your opportunity to articulate how you wish to live, relate with others and become congruent with what you believe in. If earning more money motivates you to work harder, that is your methodology. If power progression and progress. Motivates you, then that’s your methodology. If libido, which is sex, motivates you, that is your methodology. In life, if caring for people motivates you, then that’s your methodology. If wisdom motivates you, well, then that’s your methodology. I sometimes wonder if during the course of designing Canberra, Mario and Mahoney, Gryphon would have faced a conflict within maybe I should compete with my husband and outwit him to showcase my finish. Maybe I should forego my imagination for better money. Maybe I should work out a more optimised design for Canberra, but for Gryphon creating a city design that would work with nature meant far more than preserving our ego or accumulating more wealth in the darkest hours of our lives when we are faced with temptations, vices, choices, constraints and dilemmas, it is our methodology that brings to life what we truly believe in without a methodology, human imagination goes everywhere and nowhere. Would Canberra be the same meeting place without the imagination and methodology of Marian Mahony Gryphon? I’m not sure, but I’m open to your thoughts, and I’ll leave it there. So we go back to the question, Does methodology matter? What do you think? I’m eager to hear from you. Thank you. I hope you enjoy listening to it. If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, many more podcasts are available on our website, novellas, dot solutions, forward, stroke knowledge space. The podcast embracing differences is available on Spotify, podbean, Apple podcasts and anchor. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel, Team novellus, 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. You.