The Wonderful Ways of the Whiteboard in Business, Part 1

I love my white board, and quite frankly, I don’t think I could do business as successfully without it. A white board lends clarity to complex situations and helps viewers logically analyze the many issues surrounding a case or problem.

The white board also allows you to see the holes in your logic – and therefore solidify your case by dealing with those holes.

Other white board fleshings reveal that you had the wrong fact in place. Many times I find that people are operating under the pretense of erroneous information, but by sharing their thoughts on a white board, they allow others to see their wrong facts and correct them.

In short, white boards get everyone on the same page.

Whiteboard Timelines

I find that timelines are one of the most useful ways to employ a white board. With one client we strategized a Chapter 11 case and created a timeline that included everything from the details of the date of filing to the date of exiting, thinking the whole process would take 9 months (ambitious, I know).

As we made the timeline we assigned specific tasks and responsibilities to people, and we also added our goals. By placing our goals at appropriate time intervals and getting buy-in from everyone involved, we could see how missed deadlines would affect our actual timing throughout the process.

And timelines aren’t just for bankruptcies. They work with any task: moving production lines, BK plans, relocating your offices, planning a wedding or whatever else.

With a timeline visualized on a white board you can get buy in, understand milestones and see how adjustments need to be made. This also reinforces people doing their jobs on time because their screw ups or lapses are tied into everyone else’s success and the overall feasibility of the timeline and the plan. This creates a great deal of personal responsibility and the consequences become very palpable.

This can all be especially effective if you add a budget to your whiteboard timeline.

An Example – With Horses!

Rotama Park, which I’ll discuss more thoroughly another time, was a race track that took 100 million dollars to build over 18 months – and 30 days to run out of cash.

I wanted to get them out of bankruptcy in 12 months. With my initial filing I also needed marketing plans, PR and other “why we’ll survive” materials. There was an opening period to fine-tune operations for profitability and positive cash flow, restructure debt equity and maintain a line of credit – and by day 300 we needed the disclosure statement hearing and approval so that by day 360 we were out of bankruptcy.

People said it couldn’t be done, but after putting the timeline on the whiteboard so that they could visualize the process, we were able to get buy in by asking each person involved what he needed to complete his responsibilities on time.

Without a whiteboard workout this turnaround never would have happened. Only by mapping everything out for all involved was I able to get buy-in and approval.

Use the whiteboard to your advantage and see where it can take you.

Do you use white boards? How do they help you?

5 thoughts on “The Wonderful Ways of the Whiteboard in Business, Part 1

  1. Pingback: The Wonderful Ways of the White Board in Business, part 2 « The Turnaround Authority

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