The most underrated business tool in America

Jul 11, 2016 |Posted by Jared Simmons | Coaching

Does anyone love a whiteboard as much as I do? It’s possible, but unlikely. During my corporate career, I would’ve gladly surrendered my file cabinets, desk phone, or laptop long before parting with my favorite piece of company property. Yet countless whiteboards go completely ignored and neglected in conference rooms every day–sadly passed over for flashier projectors and LCDs. Need convincing? Below are five features that make the whiteboard the most underrated productivity tool in corporate America.

5 Whiteboard Features to Love

1. It’s semi-permanent

The biggest obstacle to creating something is often getting started. Whiteboards lower barriers to beginning with an implicit reassurance: anything I don’t like can be completely erased from existence. By the same token, a quick photo can capture the final product for posterity.

2. It’s active

Most of the whiteboards I’ve seen are best used standing up. This alone gets me more engaged and involved in what I’m creating. Writing this way involves larger muscles and usually requires a step or two in either direction, which keeps me alert and focused on the task at hand.

3. It lets me think my way

I can organize my ideas in the way that I will ultimately communicate them–as opposed to the order that they occur to me in the moment. I can leave a space for a thought or a process step that I know is missing and come back to work on it later. This gives me the freedom to follow my train of thought with fewer divergences, which means that more of my thoughts get captured.

4. It’s flexible

Font (size, style, color, orientation), symbols (arrows, circles, squares, dividing lines), and formatting (header, footer, bullets, sub-bullets) are intuitive and seamlessly integrated. No digging through menus, memorizing shortcut keys, or fussing with invisible margins that just won’t stay put! If I can imagine it, I can produce a version of it to interact with in the real world.

5. It’s fast

The speed that comes from using a whiteboard is a byproduct of the other attributes. I can create–and communicate–at a pace that is only limited by the speed of my thoughts. In a meeting, I can quickly incorporate feedback from others (and they can see that their point was heard and captured). It allows for virtually instantaneous correction, addition and revision.

 

These elements make the humble whiteboard a powerful and cost-effective tool for creating, collaborating, and communicating in today’s technology-focused workplace. Developing your skills with it will improve your work product and meeting effectiveness immediately.

So grab a marker and get to it!

Just one request–please make sure it’s dry erase. Respect the board.

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Jared Simmons

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