• The Doll House Effect
Over thirty years ago I was visiting New York with my Mother-in-law and my daughter. We were on our way to Cooperstown and noticed a billboard for Doll Houses made in Schenevus, NY. So we stopped out of curiosity and bought three Doll Houses. We brought them home on the plane and put them away. They were in the attic for thirty years. I never made them for my two daughters. They were rediscovered this year and brought into the garage. Now I have three grand daughters. I decided that I did not want to miss another opportunity before they were too old.
What is the Doll House Effect? It is a Project Metaphor! Every good project has a design, some instructions to follow, a deliberate process or procedure, some creative variables and a useful end result or the finish! My Doll House project illustrates this idea. Maybe you will see applications.
1. The Design This involves simply the vision of the finished project—a picture of the project completed. The plan, what it is called, what it looks like, what it is for and what it will take to complete the project. The ultimate outcome is the design! Most projects do not project the time needed to complete project, however, those that do, provide a critical path for component parts to be sequenced into this finished design.
2. The Instructions
A good set of instructions breaks the project down into all the component parts that make assembly by another possible. Everything that is needed is included in the instructions—the procedure and additional resources needed. There is an order, first things first. Then the next part follows, sequentially, one step at a time. The designer created an order for assembly that would accomplish the project. A successful project is almost guaranteed, by following these instructions.
3. The Process
This involves your available time and what steps you are willing to take to make it happen. There are several ways to proceed with any project. One would be “all or nothing.” I could attempt to make the House from start to finish in one extended period of time, maybe days—of course that is all you do! Or I could work on it one day a week. Or I could work on it some, every day I am home, with short breaks—15-20 minutes at a time. I chose to do something every day—that was my process. I would either detach the pieces from the laser cut sheets, prepare by figuring out where they would go, paint them and/or glue them. My building process goal was attempt “something” every day no matter what. Admittedly, this was a slower process, but it was more thorough and fit in my busy life. It would take time for paint and glue to dry, so as long as I was preparing pieces with paint or assembling with glue that counted as doing something every day. Making a process plan and working that plan by steps works!
4. The Variables
Everyday, I had choices to make about how I wanted to project to look. I was free to apply my own creativity. I could choose the paint and color choices I wanted. I took photos of all the steps I followed to model my process for accountability. I could add something to make it better—like support braces for expected wear spots. Often, I would be stumped by the instructions, and spent time trying to understand them, which lead to a little trial and error. Ultimately, these creative variables would become my “signature” or my version of the project. How we handle the variables makes any project ours!
5. The Finish
Everyday, I could visually see how this project was progressing towards what I wanted the Doll House to look like. Often I would compare my project with the design photo, to visually my progress. I was choosing my paint and arranging the parts to accomplish the look I wanted the finished project to appear. I would constantly refer back to the original design, and altar it, only after fully understanding the original. Finishing the project like the design was the goal.
Challenge: Consider how you might apply observations from this metaphor “The Doll House Effect” to your children’s ministry projects or any project, for that matter.