Defending Whiteboards

What I especially love about the video below is that it shows how utterly important whiteboards are if you want to work creatively in a team. I can’t stress this enough, and I also seem to be the greatest defender of whiteboards in our development team and the first to add „No whiteboard in conference room“ as an impediment to our taskboard.

Even now the whiteboard in our current team office is far too small for my taste. To compensate this we have pinned big sheets of flip chart paper pads pinned to the rest of the walls. My old Scrum team was located in two room, so we had two whiteboards, but that still wasn’t enough at times.

Especially during design phases you need room to sketch. In a Scrum team with five developers it is not uncommon, if not preferable, to have two user stories running at the same time which means you need two designs, which means two whiteboards is the minimum that you can work with. I would still argue you need more for any technical problems, additional tasks or just whatever pops up.

Even when you constantly erase what you don’t need, we often came to a point where the only option left was taking a picture of the whiteboard to make room for the next problem. That worked, but it is still a limiting factor when you need to organize your creativity.

A thing as shown in the video where the same content can stay on the whiteboard for days and maybe more so that people can always come back to the design, rethink and rearrange sounds too good to be true.

On the other hand, I’m not complaining. As a creative team, we find ways to be creative and work within an informative workspace. As I said, flip chart pads make a good whiteboard-ersatz for a lot of problems. They don’t provide the flexibility a whiteboard does, since you can’t easily erase stuff, but they generally work well, too. You can also get cheap pinboards at IKEA (and probably elsewhere) and use these to put up reminders. Or you can hi-jack whiteboards in other offices that are currently not used.

I still believe that whiteboards are one of the most important tools you need when working in an agile team and you can never enough.

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