The unexpected awesomeness of the whiteboard

I've been around whiteboards for ages. We all have. It's the conference room staple. It's one of those things that is what it is and not much more. I figured the whiteboard had run out of surprises... or so I thought. The last couple weeks I've been sitting down with the whiteboard in my lap to start sketching out ideas and... well, the whiteboard surprised me. While in my lap the whiteboard suddenly became a brand new thing to me. Treating the board like a sketch pad somehow conjures up a "sketch artist" mode in a way that is different form standing up at a wall. There are three basic features of the whiteboard that makes it perfect for initial concept sketches. These features are of the "no duh" variety. But in the context of sketching out ideas, these features take on a new level of importance.

1) All good ideas come at the end of a trail of many trashed ideas. The faster you can trash an idea, the more time you'll spend getting on with the next, bigger, better idea. And when it comes to trashing an idea, nothing erases faster than a whiteboard. It's faster than a pencil eraser, faster than a mouse, It's even faster than crumpling up a piece of paper and throwing it in the trash (then missing the trash cause I suck at the 3 point so, I have to pick the trash up off the floor and drop it in the trash before grabbing a clean sheet of paper). Point is, the whiteboard is an excellent canvas for quick idea iteration.

2) When starting out on that path to a great idea, you don't want to get hung up on details and specifics. You want to stay big picture, you want broad strokes And the dry erase marker is a broad stroke tool. It's broad, sloppy and it's no good for detail which makes it perfect for staying out of the murky weeds when you should be thinking big.

3) There is a silent agreement between humans and the whiteboard. We humans understand that anything on the whiteboard is temporary. No one expects a Mona Lisa on the whiteboard. It's a constant clean slate waiting to happen. What this means is the pressure is off when you draw on a whiteboard. We hold our selves to a lower executional standard and that kind of frees our brain up a bit to explore. We are less self-critical on a white board and when that self-critical voice goes away, our minds are more open to create.

Sure there have been technological advances in the whiteboard. There are whiteboards that'll print, the back painted glass boards are certainly slick and they even have digital touch-tech whiteboards. But none of these advances do much to improve on the basic awesomeness of a plain old whiteboard you can sit down with to quickly pull those ideas out of the ether.

Categories: Art Design Ideas Process


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