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Why study methodology

The task of our course is for you to be able to freely operate with the method/practice/activity/work as a first-class object. After the course, you should understand how to describe practice, how to break down practice (including how to conduct division of labor), how to describe the breakdown of practices. And you should be able to do this in a variety of work projects, regardless of the practices you will encounter in them: you should be able to conduct the same reasoning about dancing practices (activities of dancers) as well as about the practices of manufacturing space rockets (activities of rocket engineers), despite all the substantial differences between the practices.

Arguments against studying methodology:

  • There is no need to know about the existence of methodology. If you speak in prose, it is not necessary to know that it is "prose." If you speak in verse, it is not necessary to know about the existence of hexameter: it is all for special enthusiasts. If the texts are good, the rest is not needed. A fish needs to swim, knowledge that it swims in water is unnecessary. If you believe this argument, it is impossible to improve your activities and discuss others: there will be no correct objects of attention, starting with the "activity" itself (which may not be called anything, the method of work may be "implied," and may not even be criticized or alternative methods chosen, practices and work can be confused, which will not allow discussing the performance of work with alternative methods, that is, it will not allow to be effective and results-oriented).
  • Methodology is only needed for methodologists. It is not needed for producers, and if it ever is (in some "quality service," where auditors will demand another "list of methods" or "list of processes") - then they will figure it out without training, all these "quality services" are analytical on principle, they do not provide any quality, they just prepare descriptions for different auditors and inventory clerks. You can train these people, but it is not necessary: they will read their own bloated standards even without "methodology." If you believe this argument, a "methodologist" is not the role of a person who discusses the method, but a position. No, a "swimmer" is not only an athlete who swims somewhere in competitions as a member of a team of swimmers, it's any person who needs to swim from point A through water to point B, with no boat or lifebuoy. And then the choice is to swim doggy style, breaststroke, or crawl. It's good to know the differences between these styles. The same goes for methodology: if discussing "how we will work," it is good to know which objects in the world to pay attention to. You need to know the types of meta-meta-models "from the textbook" to then discuss the organization of work in the project.
  • No one anywhere is ever explicitly taught this in universities or in production, so we won't either. If you believe this argument, people somehow learn about "development methodologies," "engineering work methodologies" on their own, not intentionally. This means that they will certainly forget something important in development (because they do not explicitly know what is important in development), and they will do something unimportant completely wrong (because the question "how should something be done," "what method are we using" will be discussed unprofessionally).

Arguments for studying methodology:

  • Methodology allows you to model the method/way/techniques of work/activity/engineering: to make the invisible visible. After creating a model of the work method, you can discuss and improve this method, consciously changing its components and maintaining collective discussion/thinking about the method.
  • Most people who are explicitly involved in methodology in engineering and managerial projects have been tasked with teaching some new team to work with a method they mastered unconsciously. They did not know exactly what people needed to learn: "what is a method," how to talk about it. Such a task (to teach a new way of working/way of working to some team, adapting this way of working to new conditions) arises more often than one might think. The task of transferring and adapting practices/methods/activities arises in practically every project. It would be wise to save time on reinventing the wheel: provide people in this situation with knowledge of methodology as such, not just about a specific technology/method/practice. Learn once (our course!) and then use it in all projects.
  • If a "simple practitioner/worker" (design engineer, manager, doctor, politician, etc.) does not constantly master new methods/practices, they will become obsolete, their work will lose value, they will become uncompetitive. In order to effectively update their knowledge, they need to be able to compare two methods: their own and a new one, and make a decision about which one is state of the art. To compare methods, one must understand what the objects of attention are in a method and how they can be compared.

Methodology applications are already being studied in industry, universities, and not only implicitly (through acquaintance with various Bodies of Knowledge as a form of knowledge representation about work methods and implicit understanding that they are all structured in much the same way), but explicitly through the study of methodological standards (usually dedicated to some form of work method record, such as OMG Essence, already mentioned ISO 24774:2014, and many others, usually applied for describing "work processes," "development processes," "life cycle types"). These standards are rapidly falling behind reality, and it is necessary to have a more general knowledge of how such standards are structured in order to notice the lag and not blindly follow such standards.

Engineering as a normative science is based on methodology. If you are going to study engineering, you will have to talk about practices and those who perform them, the life cycle of a system or its features, system development, and this is the content of methodology. So, you will have to study methodology anyway if you plan to study engineering.