Discussing this term in depth could fill a whole Ph.D. thesis. So, for the sake of simplicity, we have here chosen to go with Wikipedia’s definition, which we consider sufficient for our purposes of a collective lean innovation vocabulary:
“Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study. It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge. Typically, it encompasses concepts such as paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques. A methodology does not set out to provide solutions—it is therefore, not the same as a method. Instead, a methodology offers the theoretical underpinning for understanding which method, set of methods, or best practices can be applied to a specific case, for example, to calculate a specific result.”
We believe that Design Thinking and Lean Startup are good examples of methodologies in accordance with the system, or collection of methods, mentioned above (and yes, we are aware of the countless academic discussions around the question, which we leave aside here). So, take design thinking for example: it heavily borrows from well-established methods and their techniques. For example brainstorming and decision-making techniques like the Six Thinking Hats from the field of creative problem solving, or Participant Observation, Diary Studies, and interview techniques from ethnography. In our understanding, whereas a method can be followed to the letter, much like following a recipe in a recipe book, a methodology can rather be adapted by a particular user in a participatory situation, if it makes sense.