Work Traits


Being methodical shows an affinity for following step-by-step processes, scripts or methods of best practice.
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What does methodical mean?

Methodical means you have a preference to follow step-by-step processes, scripts or methods of best practice.

You have a high motivation for following established procedures for business-related tasks. You'll care about doing things the right way - following proven recipes or guides to make sure you end up with the desired result. 

Most comfortable with a set of instructions to follow, you'll ask for scripts or search for the best way to do things. In your team, you'll evangelize the efficiency gains and reduced time wasting that the methodical approach provides. 

Being methodical is a great way to scale operations across teams, organizations and cultures, giving everyone an understandable and replicable framework to utilize for consistent results.

We call it: Procedures

Your level of energy to follow a proven step by step process, script, recipe or method of 'best practice'.

What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.

Samuel Johnson

Leaders known for being methodical

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was a 19th century British mathematician, famously known for being the first computer programmer in history. She identified the potential of the Analytical Engine, the first mechanical computer developed by Charles Babbage, and became obsessed with its logical operation and the possibilities opened up by it. 

She demonstrated the power of her methodical thinking by showing how mechanical computation could complement human thought, and attempted to create a highly ambitious 'calculus of the nervous system'. 

Her contribution to the strength of women in STEM fields is now honored on Ada Lovelace day, on the second Tuesday in October each year.

Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio is an American hedge fund manager and philanthropist, known as being the founder of Bridgewater Associates. He started his investing career at the age of 12, buying $300 of airline shares. Now, in his 70s, he's worth over $18 billion. 

Much of his success with Bridgewater comes down to procedures for decision-making. As Dalio explains in his book Principles:

"Our brains work like computers: they input data and process it in accordance with their wiring and programming. When someone says "I believe X", ask them: "What reasoning are you using to draw your conclusion?" 

Dalio asserted that following a specific methodical framework when making decisions was the key to his success.

Ray Dalio
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Reshma Shetty

Dr. Reshma Shetty is a co-founder and COO of Gingko Bioworks, a biotech startup that designs synthetic DNA. She founded the company in 2008 with her fellow MIT grad students after gaining her doctorate. 

She combines the pioneering creativity of frontier science with the methodical preciseness that engineering necessitates; both through her career as a pHD researcher in biological engineering, and the architect of a billion-dollar biotech company.

Shetty recognises that being methodical is a balancing act: "I’m an engineer by training, so I always want to have all the information at hand to make that perfect decision. But that’s usually not how life works!"

The benefits of being methodical

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Sticking to established formulas is a great way to ensure predictable results without drama or uncertainty.

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Results Oriented

If you're not changing track every month, you're more likely to make great things happen over the longer term.

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Being methodical means you might be more likely to spot mistakes, oversights and aberrations more than your peers.

The blind spots of being methodical

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An aversion to deviating from regular methods means you might miss opportunities for improvement and creativity.

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Others could find your methodical nature frustrating if you're not willing to alter your course for the sake of compromise.

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Status Quo

Without the desire to explore alternative paths to success, your options for creating new things are limited.

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How to be more methodical

1) Temper your disruptive ideas.

If you tend towards breaking new ground in every endeavor, it can be great for inspiration, but not so much for productivity. 

The newest, shiniest ideas can be attractive, but if your goal has already been achieved in the past, what's the harm in repeating it? Established methods are established for a reason - they work. 

So despite your desire to disrupt the status quo, save your creative energy for other domains, and try following the lead for once. You might find it's a quicker, easier path to success.

2) Measure your success.

The great thing about doing things methodically is that it's easier to track your progress. You can better see what's working and what isn't when you're following procedure - and that's crucial for knowing where you stand.

Breaking convention and doing new things are fun but it's not always possible to see results as you go. Following established guides and being able to mark off successes as you go will not only boost your confidence and job satisfaction, it'll also show your colleagues that you're competent and trustworthy.

3) Take a moment.

When getting swept up in the excitement of a project, make sure to take a moment's rest once in a while. Step back and look at the bigger picture, so you can see how well your execution is looking against your initial plans.

Applying a bit of methodical thinking here can be super useful - is this working? What if we altered this part? Are we following the right procedures for this strategy? 

Taking these review breaks once in a while can make sure oversights don't get swept under the rug, and give you a better handle on fast-moving situations.

4) Use methodical language.

Sometimes all it takes is a little tweak to your everyday lexicon to put you in the methodical mindset. If you find your language peppered with possibilities, hinting at open choices, alternatives and options, it might be worth re-examining your work style.

When faced with decisions, try to steer yourself back into the world of methods, processes, recipes for success, and 'the right way'. Just thinking about where you can deploy these concepts will get you thinking in a more structured fashion. You might find that rather than restricting your creativity, they actually enhance it, by taking 'analysis paralysis' off the table and giving you a clear path ahead.

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