There's no shortage of digital collaborative software, and while it's important to have these tools in place and at your fingertips, sometimes it's worth going analog to inspire progress and keep an eye on goals. Whether it's wall-mounted or rolling, a whiteboard or tackboard can become a focal point for team collaboration and cohesion, so long as its implementation is calculated, effective, and easy to maintain.

Plan with Purpose

There's a reason why your team is entertaining the idea of a whiteboard-- so what is it? Whether you're tracking progress on a specific project, working through long-term projections, or trying to answer a current problem, there's always a common goal that you're trying to reach. Clearly identify what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like and write it across the top so that it's always in sight.

Follow the Leader

Establish a point person--be it a team lead, a project manager, or an eager teammate--to take responsibility for the board's maintenance and organization. Even though boards are meant to encourage collaboration, group mentality can often lead to the assumption that someone else will take care of things.

What Works Well?

While some organizational methods might come naturally or seem like no-brainers, there's no shortage of blogs, webinars, and articles about new ways to track progress, increase awareness, and improve processes:

  • Go / Slow / Stop - For particular projects, take stock of what's keeping momentum moving, what's causing unexpected resistance, and what roadblocks are taking the task off the rails. Not unlike a turning stoplight, circumstances can change and sometimes adjustments are needed.
  • Ideas / In Progress / Done - Not every goal is quantifiable with numbers and figures. Take a look at the bigger picture and see what can be done to reach those benchmarks, keep everyone informed of current initiatives, and remind one another what has already been tackled.
  • Spring Cleaning - At the end of an era, it's nice to take stock of what went well, what went wrong, and what could be implemented the next time. Ask your team-- what's worth keeping, what's worth working on, and what can be eliminated to reduce bloat?
  • Take the Temperature - Visually represent progress with a bar that's easy to fill in as benchmarks are reached. It worked in elementary school, it worked in high school, and it still works in the workplace.
  • Set Sail - A sailboat retrospective merges realistic perceptions with optimistic projections. If your team is a sailboat, what's the intended destination (goals), anchors (slow-downs), rocks (hard stops), and winds (helpers)?

A Team with a Theme

Who doesn't want to have a little bit of fun alongside function? Just like individuals, teams take on personalities, so choose a fitting favorite and do some arts and crafts. From movies to memes or even a mutually loved TV show, accenting your chosen collaboration style with a little bit of artwork can keep catchup meetings a little lighthearted.

More Materials

Markers are fine and all, but sometimes scribbles aren't quite enough. Especially when working on collaborative activities, coming prepared with Post-It notes makes brainstorming exercises more dynamic and encourages individual contribution from every member. Most whiteboards have a magnetic core, allowing for printed proposals and pictures to be stuck up with a couple of magnets instead of hard-to-pick-away tape.

Take the Time

Daily stand-up meetings always seem like a great idea; who doesn't benefit from a quick touch-base in the early hours of the workday? Of course, over time it becomes easy to say "let's just skip this one," or "can we take care of that next week?" as the regularity of stand-ups falls apart. Be cognizant of those downturns and work through them. Some meetings will take up the whole time, some will run short, but their daily drive is what matters.



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