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Act more effectively on problems with an portfolio of methods


Larger companies tend to standardize their method selection. Methods are evaluated by a central office, adapted to the company and trained by employees.

Based on my experience, I am convinced that it would be more effective to offer a method portfolio that provides a conscious selection of methods, models and techniques in order to adequately and effectively solve problems and development solutions.

Read here why and how that might look like.

By Peter Roth, April 12, 2021

Standardization in the methodological area

Predefined methods, models and techniques are extremely helpful in complex tasks and organizations. They have been scientifically developed and tested and, when used properly, significantly increase the chances of success.

In larger companies, however, I see a tendency to limit themselves to just a few methods for an organization and a certain subject area, be it a methodology for project management and one for software development, for example. This is likely the result from efforts to reduce complexity at this level and to save costs in the areas of licenses, training and support through standardization. It should also prevent a proliferation of methods and it allows the organization to offer great support, training, and a clear skill profile for new applicants for these few methods.

I also see that a change in method is often initiated by management or the architecture department. Most of the time, the individual methods are evaluated centrally by the architecture department, adapted to the company, extensively documented and trained, and then deployed with training courses across the entire organization or at least role-specifically. Due to the investments made, such internal, company-specific methods will remain with us for a very long time.

Why should not the number of methods be restricted too much?

From my point of view, it is not expedient to impose excessive restrictions on the choice of method. Likewise, it is not effective for a central organization to define the methods to be used.

  • There is no method that covers all types of possible problems and areas of responsibility, each method has a predefined focus for a certain discipline such as process modeling, organizational development, project management. This should be strictly adhered to. A software development method does not fit into an IT rollout project, and the Scrum framework does not fit to an organization that only does maintenance. Rather, in such a case the problem would have to be squeezed into the corset of the methodology, which can then be very time-consuming and cumbersome and suppress innovative approaches because, too many and/or incorrect structures and processes have a restrictive effect on creative and innovative tasks.
  • The more specific a method is, the more specific is its scope. There are methods and techniques that are more generic (e.g. problem-solving process, Deming cycle), but then the methodological support is correspondingly thinner.
  • The limitation of the selection of methods and the instruction of the usage of methods contradicts the principles of self-organization, where teams should have the competence and freedom to decide for themselves how they come to a result. And methods, models and techniques are the basis of specialist skills! Who else, if not the specialists themselves, know best which ones to use?
  • From a systemic point of view, too, no direct instructions of how something is to be done should be entered, only suitable framework conditions should be created.
  • When employees learn a new method, they have acquired the knowledge after the training, but they lack the experience to do so. If a new method is spread across an organization, this organization starts with a very low level of maturity in this area, which can have a critical impact on the organization.
  • New employees may have good knowledge and experience with other methods but cannot use it.
  • Many companies strive for diversity on different levels but restrict the choice of methods, which for me does not fit together.

Method portfolio as an offer

Instead of providing direct instructions, I recommend creating an offer in the form of a portfolio for methods, models and techniques. This basically corresponds to a service management approach that is available to the organization, where the teams can help themselves depending on the situation and based on supply and demand.

Such a portfolio approach supports an active, controlled knowledge management in the organization. It is recognized which knowledge is required by existing and new employees and what kind of training and development needs exist. This also enables an exchange of knowledge and experience between the teams and the architecture team and between the teams themselves. Methods that are often used can also be supported more with active advice from method specialists and with internal and external training than those for niches.

Since this is only an offer and not mandatory, a team can of course also use a method that is not offered in the portfolio. If the application is successful and there is further need, this new methodology can then be incorporated accordingly, so that other teams can benefit from it and what corresponds to an organizational gain in knowledge. As with other portfolio processes, such an approach leads to a controlled life cycle for methods, where new methods can be integrated and obsolete or unused methods can be eliminated.

The great management mesh of VeriSM could be used as a tool for this. Among other things, there are the so-called management practices which can be used.

Expansion through social and personal skills

Even if not explicitly mentioned, in these management practices we usually speak of methodical knowledge such as project management, software development, process design, service management, org design, etc. But I would like to encourage much more to include social and personal skills such as leadership, empathy, teamwork, conflict management, agile mindset, self-reflection, etc., which will be actively supported even more. Why separate these topics and deal with them separately, if ultimately it should support the same target group holistically and comprehensively?


Such an approach creates an actively managed and controlled, effective portfolio of management practices. This promotes a self-responsible corporate culture based on dialogue, where knowledge and experience are shared, individuals can contribute their strengths and, ultimately, teams can act effectively and generate added value. This allows an organization to be more agile and diversified towards future challenges.