Templates – annoying and helpful

by | Nov 18, 2020 | Change |


Robert wants a template because he doesn’t want to figure it out for himself, so is looking for an easy solution.

Sarah wants a template because she is scared she might overlook a key issue and fears for her job. She seeks the ‘right way’ to address the issue so she won’t get into trouble.

Patricia avoids templates like the plague. She finds them too constricting, boring, and never appropriate for ‘my context’.

Moses wants a template so he can blame others if it goes wrong. “If I follow the template, it can’t be my fault.’ If he is honest, Moses doesn’t think he is smart enough to figure it out, but he doesn’t like to say that.

Mary wants a template because ‘I need to prioritise my thinking energy for other things right now.’

I have been all four of these people and more in different times and places in my life. Sometimes it’s been appropriate and other times not.

Templates come in all shapes and sizes. Some people eat the same thing everyday (or weekly) so they don’t need to think about it. Others wear the same clothes each day. Organisations have templates for presentations, various documents, so they can be ‘on brand’. Legal professions are full of standard templates for everything imaginable.

Frankly, I have a love/hate relationship with templates. However, the power of a template for change is that if you can you change the template, you have a lever for far reaching change.

So when we’re asked for a template, perhaps it’s wise to pause and ask why the person is seeking one. And maybe we need a few questions to ask so we help them get the right one.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema


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