My kids recently were given a “Diggers Stencil Book’ containing pages of different types of diggers and dumper trucks – bulldozers, backhoe loaders, site dumpers, mini excavators, road headers, long wall shearers, and so on. They love it. Each page has a stencil with two machines on it which they can use to trace the shape of the machine, then, they fill in the rest and add new bits as they desire. Hours of fun and experimentation with a few moments of frustration when things don’t turn out as they wish.
We do something similar when we provide templates of processes or legal documents, however templates often allow less flexibility than the stencils to draw digger. The trick is getting the balance right, what freedom to allow – this is true of designing stencils for children and legal templates for adults. The more room for flexibility we allow, the slower the process is and the more, hopefully, contextualised it is. The fears often include a fear of missing something out when freedom is given or the fear of being too constrained when too little freedom is given.
When we are changing processes, it is valuable to consider the questions we need to be answered, we don’t need to prescribe the answers, but including the questions moves us forward. We often erroneously think blank pages are the same as freedom, this is rarely true. Questions can be like guides who guide the hero of the story to determine what is best in her context.
We have a fear of being over prescriptive because we forget what it is not to know what we have learned.