Building blocks and scaffolds

Definitions Jun 25, 2021

Today's post is a building block for oft used terminology. This is to set a baseline reference to these common words that I use often. Unfortunately, these words are used by different folks with different meaning and interpretations, so it is often not an apples-to-apples discussion on these topics. So, when I use these words, I use them in the way it is described in this article.

Models - A model is an abstraction. It takes a complex reality to simplify and represent it in a form that it can be used for discussing a concept. The utility of the model that is being used for discussion is what one realizes from it. There is no point in believing that a model is true as it is only an abstraction. Multiple models can be used in concert to create deeper models.

All models are wrong, some are useful - George Box

Frameworks - Frameworks are scaffolds that help offer perspectives. A way to look at it from multiple angles and use these perspectives to decide what makes sense in a particular context. My belief is that frameworks should not introduce bias and not provide concrete answers. But it should offer enough perspectives so that it raises questions that can be used to discuss what is important in the present context of the situation driving the discussions. Frameworks might have embedded ideology that includes a collection of values and principles to establish such perspectives. An agnostic framework helps one create a model that helps represent a reality in a situation (limiting the biases created by it)

Methods - are processes that have a series of steps that can be if practiced properly might provide closely repeatable results. Methods can be improved with individual and collective practices, coaching, teaching and mentoring. The results produced by the methods might be as good as it is practiced. There is always a learning curve starting as a novice leading to a long journey as a journeyman leading to mastership and excellence. Methods may have framework components with embedded ideology of values and principles, and often practice of the methods without imbibing these values and principles lead to subpar results and performance (and might even be detrimental, rather than accretive to its practice).

Methodology - is practice of collection of inter-related methods. Each methods need to be learned and practiced individually. Sometimes, the interaction of various methods lead to reduced performance due to the degradation of the practice of individual concepts. The associated ideology from the various methods might also lead to sub-par performance since the ideals may not be in sync or consistent in terms of being coherent with each other.

Various tools and techniques can be used in support the instantiation of different methods or methodologies. It however becomes a problem when the tool structures the method overriding the flexibility and options that a method or a set of methodologies provide. So, tools and techniques have to support methods and methodologies, not the other way around - a major industry problem.

Manifesto - is an idea (ideological statement) of how things should be, or more frequently how they should not be. Most manifestos are systemic and includes values and principle statements. Some manifesto's also have embedded methods in forcing answers and practices without context of the situation in which they are being used.

A huge thanks to Dave Snowden and his work to document definitions so that it helps have structured conversations with making it highly possible to have dialogue on any particular topic, with these common understandings (or reference points)


Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax - Dave Snowden -


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