Using a Whiteboard

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In most of the businesses I have ever worked in or visited, I have seen a whiteboard prominently featured on at least one wall, even in some pretty small cubicles. When you have great ideas you need to write them down, and a great place to jot down ideas is a simple whiteboard. Today, whiteboards are as much a part of the workplace as cubicles and free coffee.

Have you spent any time really reading what is written down on those whiteboards?

Sometimes you see simple flowcharts of people, objects, or data as it moves through crudely drawn boxes or multicolored schematic drawings. Some have complicated mathematical formulas full symbols or numbers that remind us why we hated math class.  I’ve seen whiteboards that are full of words like “strategy”, “planning”, and “priorities” that are followed by a bullet list of to-do items. There are even whiteboards filled with lists of simple to-do items that never get erased and are there just to remind the occupant of the office what they are supposed to be doing every day.

Sometimes you will see some misplaced artwork that seemed to have been created by all the bored kids who entertained themselves while mom or dad tried to get some things done – usually on a weekend or after normal hours.

Never underestimate the power of the whiteboard for helping you think out loud, brainstorm, develop agendas, schedule tasks, pass important messages, and even for keeping simple to-do lists.

Whiteboard tips for work:

  • If you don’t want the boss to read it, don’t put it on a whiteboard.
  • Never assume the whiteboard content is safe from being erased. All whiteboards will eventually be erased.
  • Dry markers will not work when you need them the most. Keep some spares handy.
  • Use your cell phone and take a picture of your masterpiece.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the whiteboard for simple reminders, ideas, or to-do lists.
  • Be prepared to clean the board at least once a week. This will force progress or at least encourage new ideas.
  • Drawing obscene or rude comments will get you fired.
  • Whiteboards that feature complex ideas should use multiple colors.
  • Protect the contents of the whiteboard. Visitors and competitors can steal your ideas as easily if you put your ideas on a highway billboard.
  • Encourage group participation by passing the marker from speaker to speaker during a group meeting.

What’s on your whiteboard today?

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