MethodKit by Ola Möller
An interview with a toolbox creator
What’s your name and role?
Ola Möller, founder of MethodKit. Also co-founder of Project of How that we released 2012.
What’s your toolbox all about? Why does it exist? What problems is it aiming to help solve?
MethodKit is a series of 42 tools that we developed over the last years (think the 7th anniversary was last week). The kits help people collaborate by having a shared language and building blocks for different type of topics and projects. The cards help them to see all the pieces. The key being to not start from zero every time, but instead define the recurring elements to get a flying start. When you can think about the whole idea from the start you will save time and it makes collaboration easier.
Who developed it? What was the team that you put together?
Over 100 people been involved. MethodKit has been running over 7 years already, and with 42 tools it’s becoming quite an atlas of the world.
Of the 100 people most are experts in different disciplines or topics that have been involved to create the different kits.
Lots of toolboxes draw on other tools and methods, what inspiration did you bring in?
The design of MethodKit back in 2012 was very much a counter-reaction to the lack of tools in workshops or badly designed ad-hoc tools.
Most card decks that existed then were basically books broken down into cards, and not really that useful. The things that people put on cards were mostly about exercises you could do.
But MethodKit was a checklist of things not to forget when doing a project to start off with. The idea was to get an overview (especially together with other people in project initiation meetings) and not forget things.
How do you practically use the toolbox in your work? And how do others use it?
MethodKit is a practical tool (42 different ones) that can be used in meetings and workshops to gain overview together.
It’s used by everyone from students for personal development, companies for business development, to mediators using it with armed groups (after peace treaties) to get them to disarm and get back into society.
What do you think is next for the toolbox? Do you have plans to update or change it?
There are a lot of different practices (ways you can use the cards and kits): from mapping, project management and prioritization, to using them for the building blocks of new concepts in hackathons. The method.wiki summarizes most of the practices we’ve seen over the years.
Some of the early kits has been updated to live up to the standard of new kits. There are many steps we might take in the future. The most tangible one is the wiki, but there is a backlog of almost 50 kits that we want to do.
We are also getting attention from big institutions who want to include this thinking in their work, doing things like making custom tools for processes within government.
What’s your opinion on the idea of toolboxes in general? At this point everyone seems to have their own! When are they useful and not useful?
There are many different collections and to be honest it’s a bit of a wild west out there. I think accessible language is key in this (not creation of new buzzwords), the threshold is in many cases too high still.
We use this glossary to explain the differences between things that many people put together into the lump called ‘tools’.
Tools — Practical things you can use. Like hammers, worksheets or cards for brainstorming. (We are not of the opinion that tools are exercises, mindsets or techniques)
Method — An exercise (in a workshop). It often aims at doing something.
Methodology — Often curated collections of mindsets, methods, processes, techniques and tools. Like ‘design thinking’.
Mindset — To use a certain set of thinking. Like ‘supportive’, ‘critical’ or ‘problem-oriented’.
Process — A sequence of events. Something that happens like 1–2–3. Like making cinnamon buns, unfolding a conflict or running a workshop. From start to end.
Techniques — You can chop an onion in 1,000 different ways.
We wrote a massive guide on workshops in general. It’s free if you want to check it out (it’s still a work in progress).
Thanks to Ola Möller for the interview, and to the MethodKit team for their awesome tools and methods. Check out ToolboxToolbox.com for more where this came from 🛠