Hyperthetically speaking…

Hyperthetically speaking - a microphone

The other day, I did some Googling and, for balance, Binging, for a compound word that popped into my head: hyper-thesis. It popped in along with the idea that value-flow-quality stood for something bigger than the sum of its parts.  I’m fully aware that giving something a label can have less than desirable effects. Yet – and call me foolish – I wanted to give this “something bigger” a name. As I tried various labels, none seemed to fit. What I was learning was what this something bigger isn’t.

It’s not a hypothesis. It may comprise of a number of hypotheses, but in and of itself it isn’t one. At Emergn we often use qualifiers with value, flow, and quality. We speak of increasing value, improving flow, and advancing quality. Doing this creates a multitude of hypotheses. So much so that discussing them here would take too long — let’s do it another time. The upshot, however, is that VFQ isn’t by itself a hypothesis.

I could drag this out and bore you with how I successively dismissed a number of words which I thought might fit: thesis, theory, metatheory, approach, method, practice. I won’t. I won’t because all of them seemed to fall into the same pattern as my line of thought for hypothesis. In other words, the elements of VFQ comprise of or are backed by these other things. I was getting a little frustrated. Then, pop, hyperthesis appeared.

I couldn’t find a dictionary entry for it – the word doesn’t seem to formally exist in our vocabulary. The search engines didn’t return much either. In fact, only two proved interesting: one and two. Perhaps I’m guilty of the same thing that the authors of both these entries were being accused of by the people who decided to respond to them? Upon a little reflection, although I don’t mean to philosophise, I probably am. Still, I think there’s something to the hyperthesis thinking.

First, there’s an aspect of oneness behind VFQ; value, flow, and quality can stand on their own and be considered independently, but they work best when considered as a whole, systems-thinking style. Second, VFQ has a fourth dimension in that increasing value, improving flow, and advancing quality are all about change. Consequently, applying the hyper- prefix would be consistent with its use in mathematics where it generally denotes things of four or more dimensions. Third, given that one of the meanings of thesis is a proposition advanced by a person offering to maintain it through argument, a hyperthesis could mean a whole collection of individual theses which by itself is useful and meaningful, as a whole. Fourth, and presumably in line with the thinking that the search engines returned, when contrasted with hypothesis in its meaning of “something to be tested”, a hyperthesis could mean something where the contributing hypotheses, theories and practices have repeatedly stood up to tests and scrutiny. In other words, a hyperthesis would be something for which there’s overwhelming evidence, especially if the subject matter is qualitative. I think VFQ is just that.

But if VFQ is a hyperthesis, then what is it a hyperthesis of? At Emergn, we often refer to VFQ as a framework. It is that, but I think it is also more than that. I think VFQ is hyperthetic of the way that modern organisations work. Or the way they ought to work. It applies equally to lean startups, product developers, discrete manufacturers and service providers. Sure, “hyperthesis”, doesn’t have a nice marketing ring to it. The question I’m asking is whether it rings true? Hyperthetically speaking, of course.