Crude Reality Method is a way to facilitate analysis or problem-solving effort via temporarily abandoning all the process terminology and instead operating with the problem using only generic, common notions (hence, “crude reality”).
The considerable advantage of the method is provided by the fact that shifting from process slang to common notions inevitably drives the change agents and SMEs to talk in terms of the intent of certain practices, tools and methods, rather than just symbolically refer to them by their specific term, the meaning of which may deteriorate over time as well as significantly diverge across the board. In a sense, Crude Reality Method is a form of Mental Model Alignment.
Here’s an example of how Crude Reality Method works in solving a specific problem in a distributed team environment…
AJ: “We have a problem with our Stand-up Meetings for distributed teams; we need to improve those, somehow people are not getting the value out of them right now…”
Natalie: “AJ, let’s try to restate the problem without using method-specfic terminology. Wanna give it a shot?”
AJ: “Let’s see… we have a problem with… with… communication and interaction across geographic locations.”
Natalie: “Very good. I think you just identified the real problem we are facing. How do you think we could help it?”
AJ: “I’m thinking, maybe Stand-ups as such weren’t the best option for teams with 11.5-hour time difference? It looks like fostering more context-dependent 1-on-1 collaboration may be a lot more feasible and deeper form of interaction…”
Josh (a developer, who was quietly listening all this time): “I think you’re unto something, AJ. I can tell you right now that if we bound such real-time collaboration to resolving integration inconsistencies and collaborative test development, it would be priceless. Plus many people have opportunities for overlaps as their variable work hours allow.”
AJ: “Agreed. We still need to make sure that the synchronization process happens in all directions…”
Josh: “We gonna encourage collaboration and paring on rotational basis of some sort, this will facilitate destination of knowledge. Also, we need to make some better use of our version-control tool. It has a perfect capability for sharing relevant notes, that much better pertain to the context of work than our formal meetings we tried before.”
AJ: “Good start, guys. I have to tell you the truth though, this conversation also made me think that with almost every team in our organization being distributed, we are hurting ourselves significantly… for no real reason…”
Note on importance of symbolic language in the enterprise. It is important to remember that, while Crude Reality Method is a very useful tool in re-aligning and resetting for the sake of more effective organizational analysis and problem-solving, it should not be used to neglect the need for symbolic language (which includes specific process terminology). We humans think in symbols that reference both abstract and concrete notions. The symbolism however, over time starts to deteriorate as well as cloud our thinking, getting us entangled in too many notions (trees) thru which we loose the ability to see the underlying reality (the forrest).
Ⓒ Org Mindset, LLC