Don’t let a template switch off your beautiful brain

Door Patrick Verheij

We all use templates in our professions. We come across Project Start Architectures (PSAs), Project Initiation Documents (PIDs), Definitions of Done (DoDs), and many more with or without fancy acronyms.\r\n\r\nSome templates are extremely important because they guide you towards a predictable outcome. Such templates are used in highly regulated environment where there is much at risk. People’s lives for example. Or world safety.\r\n\r\nYou’d better use them properly and demand professional assistance when something is unclear!\r\n\r\nMost templates however, are based on experience and common sense: “this has worked for us in the past and now it’s your turn”.\r\n\r\n(“Your turn to do exactly as we did, of course”)\r\n\r\nThese templates are well-structured, easy to follow, and  tell you exactly what kind of information is expected in how many words and sentences.\r\n\r\nYou’d better use them properly…or else!\r\n\r\nAnd then we do!\r\n\r\n”But…wait…that paragraph over there is not applicable for us. And that one over there doesn’t make sense. That other one does…but not for us. Oh and isn’t this information missing?”\r\n\r\nOkay, hold on. Sounds familiar? So far, we all know the drill: we have to use a template but…have questions.\r\n\r\nAnd then…\r\n\r\n”Bloody template! Those darn managers/architects/analysts/QA drones/[your favourite culprit here]! They don’t understand what we are doing here”\r\n\r\nWe complain, get a coffee and fill in the template for the sake of it.\r\n\r\nOver and over and over again.\r\n\r\nWe can do so much better!\r\n\r\nDO YOU for example ask the more challenging questions, like:\r\n

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  • Could the person demanding the use of this template please step forward and explain it properly to us?
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  • Why don’t we sit together for a while and get to the bottom of the purpose and usefulness of this template? It’s there, but nobody can explain it. It must be useful, wouldn’t it? Or…
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  • What if…we could change this template a bit? Would there be a chance to improve it?
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  • What exact context did the people writing this template work in and what can we learn from that?
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  • Was this template written by people who did real work…or by people who had a great idea but no experience? And what does that tell us?
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  • What if…we abandoned this template and just used our common sense? What would then NOT come to pass? Would anything bad happen?
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\r\nSo start asking such questions and know that any template is a standard. All standards have a few things in common:\r\n

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  1. They should have a clear purpose.
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  3. They should have people supporting that purpose.
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  5. Anyone using them should very well understand the purpose.
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  7. They (the standards) should be questioned when things are unclear or go wrong.
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  9. They (once again the standards) should improve. Whenever needed.
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\r\nDon’t reduce yourself to a template worker. You are too beautiful for a mere cog. Make the world a better place by questioning your templates properly and act accordingly!

Patrick Verheij

06 59 443 447

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