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Challenging the Status Quo with Method Development: An Iterative and Intentional Process

by Matthew Yapchaian

Sylver Consulting organizes a unique suite of qualitative and/or quantitative methodologies for each project, always allowing the problem or project at hand to determine our choice of methods used. When a problem cannot be solved with available methods, we design new tools — a very exciting opportunity for all of us on the team!

Of all method types, I find that hybrid methods (those generating qualitative and quantitative data sets simultaneously) are the most fun for me to develop, as they require a highly collaborative process between team members.

I perceive the act of designing new methods from scratch as freedom! When this occurs, I — as well as others on the team — am given unconstrained space in which to think about a given problem. I’m challenged to think of that problem from as many perspectives as possible. “What if…” scenarios and pontifications are desired ten-fold. This exercise excites me to the core!

But, it is important to note that method development doesn’t just always happen at Sylver Consulting. Rather, it’s purposeful. To ramp up a method’s development at Sylver, we have to be truly confident and articulate about why other available methods on the market do not sufficiently address the needs of the problem/project at hand. To do that, we create a laundry list of each existing method’s limitations. From that, we identify a new path forward and define what a new method needs to do to best address our needs on the problem/project at hand. We also identify who among the team is best to lead on that particular method’s development process — at least for its first iteration.

In fact, it’s the spirit of “iteration,” embedded into Sylver’s new method development process that truly makes my heart sing! Temporal demands of the problem/project at hand force us out of the shadows of perfectionism and into a proactive spirit of prototyping and reflection. I relish these iterative cycles of development, as each exposure of the method to team members with different points of view, experience, and modes of thinking pushes the development of the method into new, constructive territories of discovery. I love seeing what “territories of discovery” emerge throughout that process.

I also find the iterative cycles of our method development to be playful, fun and open. In a freeform style, group members develop a rhythm and flow by sharing their “What if…” ideas — bad or good. Sometimes things resonate, other times they are dismissed; at the very least, they lead to the next thought. Most important is that play is perceived to be key in stoking the team’s creativity.

Once a new method transitions out of its initial “building new” phase and into its “evolution” stage, a new type of excitement begins. At this stage, tweaks and amendments are required to make each subsequent instantiation of the method relevant to a new problem. I find that the ongoing evolution and development of a method furthers the boundaries of the original project team’s method design to include perspectives from all future project teams (and the problems they are trying to solve for). As a result, the method is rendered more robust because of these viewpoints. I enjoy coming back to a method following its transformation by a different project team or two because it allows me to see versions of the method that I did not or could not have imagined prior.

At this moment in time, I’m most personally charged by SymbolicsTM. We recently completed a project that pushed Symbolics’TM previous boundaries and revealed new models of its use. This has once again kicked up a cycle of reflection and iteration at Sylver as we prep for future SymbolicsTM projects coming down the pike. Needless to say, I’m excited, as is the rest of the team. And, because of our enthusiasm and excitement for iteration and consequent evolution, our clients can always feel confident that they are getting the best and current thinking of the Sylver team at that moment.

Interested in hearing more about the Sylver’s unique and proprietary methods? We’d love to share more!

  • Innovation
  • Market research
  • Quantitative

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