Whiteboard – A simple collaboration and productivity tool

A whiteboard is an awesome tool.  It can achieve so much with so little effort.  It can enhance productivity and really engage people and stimulate collaboration.  And yet it is a tool that many people don’t take advantage of.  In fact,  it can be even better than the mighty pen and paper.

It is a common mistake amongst people nowadays to think that technology is the answer.  Whenever we have a problem to solve there must be a wonder of technology that can solve everything and more.  And quite often we make our mind up and go in search of a piece of technology to shoehorn into the problem.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Technology can very well be the answer in many circumstances.  In others,  however,  a different tool may be the answer.

A whiteboard can be a very effective tool whether used just by you or by a team of people.  Incorporating the use of a whiteboard into your day can make life easierHow you conduct your work can make a difference in the end result.  Some of it’s advantages are:

It is very visible. A nice big whiteboard in the room normally get’s noticed.  As such it is a great place to put pieces of information that you need to stay aware of.  Important dates,  to do lists,  inspiration, etc.  If it is being used by a team then everyone tends to benefit.

It is easy to use. Very little effort is required to use a whiteboard.  As such they tend to get used.  I’ve seen many a nice piece of technology,  that in theory provides some nice features,  not get used because it was just too much effort.  A whiteboard on the other hand is about as simple as it gets.  As such you can focus much more on what it is that you are trying to achieve.  Virtually no learning curve at all.  Anyone can come in and join in on the process with minimal effort.  This tends to lead to ideas flowing freely.

It is quick to throw ideas onto. Innovation, lateral thinking and generating good ideas are important.  That’s why there has been much research into how best to go about doing it by various people,  including De Bono.  With a whiteboard everyone can see it,  everyone can quicly throw ideas onto it.  When you are in a creative state and thoughts are flowing you don’t want to stop that process in order to record those ideas.  That’s when you lose your train of thought.

With these characteristics the humble whiteboard has had a great part to play in many an amazing achievement.  Will one be a part of your next achievement?  For those what want to take it further a whiteboard can be expanded into what is called a breakout room.  These room are exciting when you’re creative juices are flowing.  I will discuss these in a later post.

Below I have listed some of the ways you can take advantage of a whiteboard.  If you can think of any others it would be great to hear your comments.

  • to do lists – I have a whiteboard in my office and at the beginning of every day I write a quick list down the side of things I want to get done that day.  Then I tick them off as I go.  It’s motivating to see this list being consumed.
  • explaining concepts – Often when I’m discussing an idea with someone we’ll draw diagrams on the whiteboard.  It really helps in getting the idea across quicker and more accurately.
  • brainstorming – When we have a problme to solve it’s good to throw ideas onto the board.  It’s a good way to get the creative juices flowing.  We often inspire each other with our ideas and form connections amongst the ideas as we’re looking at them and manipulating them on the board.
  • planning – If I have an upcoming project I will dedicate an area of the board to that.  Whenever I have any ideas or thoughts relating to it I note them on the board.  Always seeing it there whenever I pass the board also keeps it fresh and turning over in my mind.
  • quick notes – It’s easy to jot down quick points like phone numbers and email addresses on.  I tend to walk around when I’m on the phone so I find this works better than a pen and paper.
  • Mind mapping – When exploring a complex idea I really want to get to the essence of it.  I find mind mapping on a whiteboard can help with this.  You only have a certain amount of area so you are forced to be concise.
  • Drawing – reducing stress is an  important part of working effectively.  To change my frame of mind a quick drawing can work wonders.
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