On the importance of an empty whiteboard

On the importance of an empty whiteboard

August 15, 2013 - by Michiel de Wit

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whiteboard.jpg

At Procurios HQ we have a 'clean whiteboard' policy. That's not an actual policy, but more of a 'best practice'. When working agile, there is a strong tendency to put stuff on the walls. However, as old habbits die hard, quite some people still tend to use magnetic white board to quickly snap a paper schema, a burn-down chart even a whole scrum board on. And that's a shame. 

Using some scotch tape these sheets are just as easily fixed on a wall, leaving the whiteboard empty for more cursory stuff like quick drafts.

Many discussions benefit from the presence of a whiteboard. Discussions about complex technological subjects without any kind of illustration or visual clarification are prone to misunderstandings. A quick sketch may literaly provide more clarity than an entire afternoon of hot debate. To encourage people to use the whiteboard, to get them to embrace this wonderful tool, it is paramount to assert maximal availability and minimal barriers. And that's why we try not to stick charts and schematics on our whiteboards and whipe them as soon as the discussion is over.

So what to do with those valuable drawings that emerge on a whiteboard during a discussion? Easy: take a photo with your smartphone or manually summarize the whiteboard's contents on some flipover paper and stick it on a wall. A clean and empty whiteboard stimulates effective debate and limits misunderstandings. Really!

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