Foster a culture of ideation using a whiteboard

Since whiteboards were first introduced to offices in the 1990s, they have become an essential tool for every organisation — how they are being used, however, can have a huge impact on the success of your company.

One of the most beneficial ways is as an idea whiteboard, ideally in conjunction with brainstorming exercises.

Idea whiteboard systems come with a host of benefits like being the start to building your idea management system, but to reap these benefits is only possible if the following three key building blocks are in place: whiteboards, support from management, and governance. They are best used for a small team of up to 12 people.

1. The Whiteboard

Whiteboards have proven to significantly improve idea generation, serving three important purposes:

  1. It allows team members to focus on important performance indicators 
  2. A constantly visual reminder of an idea keeps it at the forefront of a member’s mind
  3. It adds a positive sense of competitiveness and accomplishment

We use whiteboards to formulate and track the progression of ideas, sketch out concepts, identify blocks, and more.

Here is one example of what a progressive whiteboard should look like:

A whiteboard similar to the one above is essential when it comes to goal setting and achievement. By having this information prominently displayed at all times, teams and individual team members are continually reminded of their goals and feel more accountable and more compelled to find a way to reach them (i.e. try new avenues to complete a task, seek the assistance of resourceful staff, etc.).

2. Support from Management

Idea systems that are backed by a supportive leadership team are far more likely to succeed than those that are not. For this idea system to work, management needs to be on board for the project, or better yet, be completely involved (i.e. management should have their own whiteboards where they can align team ideas to priorities). Having idea whiteboards publicly displayed also expedites the approval process from other teams and managers.

3. Governance

Team leaders can take a number of steps to help maintain a stream of high-quality ideas, increase the rate of implementation, and ultimately meet performance goals:

  • Focus on the small ideas. Small ideas are approved of more quickly as they have less distance to travel up the organisational ladder and are less resource intensive making them ideal for small teams.
  • Implement what you can. Ideas are nothing without execution, and the creative spirit amongst your team will quickly dissipate if nothing comes of their ideas.
  • Consistent brainstorming must be a part of your organisation’s culture. Encourage the constant flow of ideas. Set aside a concrete period of time every day or week for constructive brainstorming 
  • Track an idea’s progress. As a leader, your goal should be to make the implementation process run as smoothly as possible by regularly checking in with employees.

Idea whiteboards are a useful tool for any organisation in any industry, but will only work if everyone has the right attitude, and that particular building block starts with you. Never forget that you are a part of the team. You share in their struggles just as you share in their successes. The idea generation process should not be something you simply hand off to your team. Get actively involved by engaging with team members and employees, encouraging brainstorming, and ensuring that ideas are being implemented.

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