Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Step Up to the Whiteboard

You hear an idea somewhere and realize it's something you could do but aren't doing. You decide to try it out, but feel awkward at first on changing the dynamic of how you work - after all people are used to you filling your role in a particular way. But over time, you get the courage. And when you get started, you don't want to stop because it gives you more than you could have anticipated.

I've had several of these experiences. One of the very valuable ones coming from a session in some agile conference I can't even pinpoint to correctly attribute is the use of whiteboard. I believe it is one of those things that I kept seeing over and over again without anyone particularly emphasizing, and at some point it became the thing I needed to try.

The transformation of how I am in meetings has been quite significant. From the person on the computer making detailed notes (and often ending up as the meeting secretary), I've moved my role to be the person on the whiteboard, making conceptual notes. And where in my written detailed notes I never got feedback if we understood things the same way, my notes on the whiteboard invite corrections, additions and depth. The visual nature of the boxes and arrows helps us discuss things, remember things and go deeper into the things.

My phone is full of pictures that remind me of discussions in the past, and they work better than any of the detailed notes I used to have.

The big part for me was to dare to change myself and try out something I wasn't sure if I knew how to do. In doing, I discovered that the best way to learn to do it is doing it.

And every meeting, I step up to the whiteboard. It helps me keep track where we are in discussions. It makes the people changing topics in middle less confusing, as the image on the board must change. And it makes sure I'm not alone with my confusion.