Why Whiteboards are a Great Planning Tool
In this age of technology, where we carry around powerful computers in our pockets you may wonder if there is still a place for the humble whiteboard. Yet whiteboards still have important uses in businesses and learning institutions. And perhaps surprisingly, it is some of the most technologically literate people who use whiteboards most. Organizations such as Evernote and Apple recognize that whiteboards have advantages as a planning tool that even the most powerful apps lack.
So Why Have They Survived in This Technological Age?
Using a whiteboard is fast, easy, and very clear. There is no software to update or concerns about internet connections. If you have a group of people in an office or workshop, everybody can see key details with a glance at the whiteboard. You can easily make changes, and people of all ages and abilities feel that they can contribute.
Whiteboards are particularly useful for visual people. They help you clearly see what you are doing. You can use them to track many business metrics, e.g. spending, debt, and income. You may prefer to create your full spreadsheet electronically, however, a whiteboard is a great way to highlight the salient points.
It is also an excellent place to show key dates and reminders, so everybody can clearly see them. Similarly, you might choose to show important company goals on a whiteboard to remind your whole team of their intended direction.
Whiteboards Can Be Agile
If your business follows the agile planning philosophy a whiteboard is a vital tool, that often outperforms most of its electronic alternatives. To many people, a physical chart on a whiteboard in the office is somehow more real than a picture of the same chart sent to them by email.
A whiteboard, like an index card, is tangible. You can take a whiteboard pen, write a task on a board, and then remove it if you change your mind. This feels more real than simply pushing a delete button in an app. This is even more evident if you use sticky PostIt notes as part of your planning, and physically attach them to a whiteboard and move them around.
Combining Whiteboards and Technology to Improve Your Planning
The funny thing is that even the technology companies love to use whiteboards to help them with their planning. The company behind the note-taking app, Evernote, is a case in point. They have whole walls of whiteboards in their Redwood City, California offices.
Most of Evernote’s innovation begins its life as points on a whiteboard. They recognize that whiteboards are fast, easy to use and big. As much as we love our electronic devices, they still can't match whiteboards for those three basic qualities. You don’t need to worry about having to turn a whiteboard on and wait for it to load. Your whiteboard is always charged and doesn’t go flat. You don’t have to go through training to operate a whiteboard, although it will emphasize how messy your writing might be.
Evernote, along with many other Silicon Valley companies, uses whiteboards for brainstorming and idea generation.
So how do you take away ideas that are written on the board? Evernote uses its own product for that. They take snap photos of important details on the whiteboard and save them as notes in the Evernote app. You truly can combine whiteboards and technology to improve your planning processes.
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- Mark Redshaw