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Off the shelf versus customised methodology.

Often when positioning a Transfer of Knowledge project, people asked me, ‘What kind of methodology do you apply?’ At times they also ask if I follow the “Insert Name Here” methodology.

I am always quite overwhelmed by the number of business process methodologies that exist, are deployed, and are even ‘certified’. And while I am all for it, for those who need the structure of a tried and true methodology, strict methodology of any kind is worthless without appreciation of the subtleties of different environments and requirements, and also without passion.

So when it comes to defining ‘my methodology’ it is certainly none that is certified, nor really is it certifiable in its construct, because, by its very nature, it is fluid enough to meet the very unique needs of each different client. My methodology for Transfer of Knowledge starts with thoroughly understanding not only the clients current environment, but also their goals and vision. I then like to work on-site, hand to hand with the client’s experts, with their years of experience, and bring my out-of-the-box thinking, and completely personalised methodology to complement their wisdom. In my experience this is the simplest and most effective way to ensure success in Transfer of Knowledge projects.

Every now and then I get push back from those who have ‘drunk the Kool-aid’ of the latest off-the-shelf methodology. Their belief is that an unstructured, ‘customised’ approach to any project is too labour intensive, and ends up costing too much. While this has some basis in truth, given the amount of projects that seem to drift aimlessly away from scope, it is not necessarily a given, especially with Transfer of Knowledge projects. With a very clear scope for the project, a customised approach can actually mean a much leaner, less time consuming, and less costly way to reach the end goal. This approach can also be an investment, as often the methodology will be specific to the unique environment of the client and can therefore be replicated in their unique environment for other similar projects, which can not always be said of off-the-shelf methodologies.

‘Horses for courses’ of course, I certainly understand the benefit of strong, proven methodology for large, complex, institutionalised projects; but for my money I still believe in the worth of a customised approach to meet very specific goals in unique environments. I also feel that the customised approach lends itself to being delivered with passion, and in my experience anything delivered with passion is not only more rewarding for those involved, but also more likely to have a lasting impact.

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