Everybody Needs a White Board
I always had a white board in my home office. I use it for all kinds of things. So when I moved into a "real" office, the first thing I bought was a very nice, big white board. It's six feet wide with a nice wide tray for pens.
That board was on the wall of our old office for eight years and is now in our new office. It has been the tool we've used for solving problems, working out processes, brainstorming, diagramming networks, developing new products, and a hundred other uses.
I also have a smaller white board for me and Mike has one for his office. At home I have three smallish white boards (3 ft wide). They are always in use.
I believe any office can benefit from the largest white board you have space for. Ideally, it will be big enough for two people to work at. With a large board you have the option to keep notes for several topics at once and go into a lot more detail with diagrams or lists.
Individuals normally need small boards for mini-brainstorming sessions, daily task lists, etc.
Your big board should be in the most accessible place possible. A conference room is good if it's easy for everyone to use it instantly. One of the advantages of a white board is that everyone can use it as a tool. So the more accessible the better.
We keep ours in the middle of the tech area because it's mostly used for solving problems and developing new product offerings. That's a place where everyone is a step or two away from using the board.
There are only two things you need to know about white board pens. 1) Low-odor pens don't erase very well. Even with a spray cleaner, your board will be harder to erase cleanly with low odor pens. 2) If someone accidentally writes on the white board with a permanent marker, you can clean it off by writing over it with a (high odor) erasable marker. It takes a little work, but gets the job done.
Brainstorming - And a Lot More
It's obviously nice to be able to have a big brainstorming session, but why not just use a legal pad? White boards are great because anyone can grab a pen and participate. Plus, as strange as it sounds, they can be team building tools. Whenever you can get some or all of your company together and focused on the activity, you build the team.
Remember: Even when people are arguing, as long as they're arguing constructively, they are actively engaged in making your business better.
White boards allow for flexible learning styles. Some people learn with words and others with pictures/diagrams. White boards allow you to flesh out ideas in a variety of formats.
White boards are a great addition to any office. If you're not using them, give it a try. I welcome other ideas about how people are using white boards.
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About this Series
SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.
Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at SmallBizThoughts.com.
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Next week's topic: Employee Expense Reports
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