How to solve the conundrum of the decision to erase a whiteboard

How to solve the conundrum of the decision to erase a whiteboard

Every conference room whiteboard has had three immortal and guilt-inducing words inscribed - "Do Not Erase." If you do erase, you could irretrievably hurt the success of another team. If you don't erase, you could irretrievably hurt the success of your team. Thus starts a conversation of "Should we erase?" Opinions abound. Yet every answer feels wrong. There is simply a lack of information: who write it, when did they write it, and why is it so important to keep? In our humble experience, the majority of decisions land on keeping what's there.

Then at some point during the meeting, someone says, "Let's use the whiteboard." Now the imperative is real, intensified. What was a theoretical question is now a blocker.

It's like when choosing to have another piece of cake. In the immortal words of Shakespeare: To relish the cake or not to relish the cake. Actually, having a piece of cake is nothing like the struggle of erasing a whiteboard against another team's express wishes. The cake is a personal decision that has little effect on someone else — unless you eat the last piece, of course.

Humanity has figured out how to land a rocket on a moving platform, replace coal with green energy, and distribute a selfie to billions of people in a single click.

Yet, the mystery of "Do not erase!" prevails.

We propose a solution: make a whiteboard a living thing. Set up a digital whiteboard for a given topic, then keep using the same whiteboard. Voila, you've solved the need to erase (unless you really, really want to). Just add a date on top of each whiteboard session, and you're good to go. For extra credit, add the list of names who attended the meeting.

You've now got a shared home, a consistent place to collaborate, and a record of all the great work you've done as a team. And no one gets their feelings hurt. You can indeed eat the cake and have it too.

December 18, 2022

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