Pragmatism is our Oxygen

Caption: Free diver returning from the depth -- Credit:, Jeremy Bishop

Caption: Free diver returning from the depth -- Credit:, Jeremy Bishop

At Pragmateam we pride ourselves with being pragmatic. We love the creativity that is required to be pragmatic. We cherish the fact that no problem is the same. We are excited to approach every new challenge by considering its context first. We push ourselves to experiment with different ideas and adapt as necessary. Pragmatism for us means striving for the best outcome in a given environment.

But the truth is that being pragmatic is difficult. Tim Harford explained it brilliantly in his article about pragmatism:

Because the pragmatist tries to take each situation on its own merits and figure out a sensible way forward, pragmatism tends to look hesitant, messy, and prone to error.

And that is true. We rarely have the same answer for the same question, because the questions are asked in different contexts. And while our guiding principles don't waiver, the application and impact of them differs. And yes, we are hesitant to jump to conclusions before we understand a problem.

One common misconception is that pragmatism equals just-getting-stuff-done. We believe it is far more pragmatic to spend time on understanding the real problem and solving for that rather than allowing our bias towards action to take over and risk having to start from scratch - or delivering a bad product. Pragmatism also means to understand that a perfect solution doesn’t count if it never gets out to users.

Tim continues:

if pragmatism is a painful process of continually correcting errors, ideology is a blissful path of being oblivious to them.

We are transparent in our learnings, allowing us and others to evolve and improve. We value continuous improvement and experimentation. We acknowledge that things will likely change the more we learn. Pragmatism means there is no perfect solution, only one that works under given circumstances.

That is why at Pragmateam we value:

Empathy over Opinionated

We ensure to gain appreciation for the people involved, for the history, context and environment of the team. We also ensure to empathise with the users of the service or product we engage with. We do have opinions about what good might look like - but we approach it with the above in mind.

Delivery over Advice

We are all practitioners at heart and work in the trenches with delivery teams rather than giving advice from the sidelines. It is much easier to gain trust of the team and sponsors if we have skin in the game too - for more than just a slide deck. It’s also a lot more fun.

Organisational Outcomes over Individual Outcomes

Our objective is to change the organisation to support delivery. Not to support a delivery team deliver more, or an individual gain a promotion. We may start with one team to showcase success, but we rarely stop there.

Being agile over Doing Agile

We base our actions on guiding principles rather than methodology, on behaviours and mindset rather than ceremony and lip service. That means we prefer an experiment that proves a point over a millimetered kanban wall any day.

Pragmatism is difficult and challenging. It is also enjoyable and rewarding. And we are proud of that.