If you're not using a white board in your office, get one on your wall - now. I've used one for over 20 years and believe it's one of the most powerful leadership tools I've ever used. I call it my "High Adventure Board." Properly used, it's a powerful collaborative thinking device, allowing you to share your thoughts, priorities, concerns, projects, just about anything, with the people with whom you work. I always told my team, "If you want to know what I'm think about and working on, come into my office (my door was rarely closed) and take a look at the High Adventure Board. I confess, the name, "High Adventure Board," was borrowed from one of my commanders in the Army, Bob Stefanowic.
If I wrote it on the High Adventure Board, I wanted my team to know it was important. It was an incredible communication multiplier. It led to frequent, meaningful discussions and conversations with the managers who reported to me. It wasn't uncommon for something to appear on the High Adventure Board and stimulated countless conversations that often led to an increased understanding of the topic or issue being discussed. It facilitated, in fact expedited, problem solving and got everyone involved in the process.
Sometimes, after making an entry on the board, like, "Warehouse organization," a manager would see it and ask, "What is it about warehouse organization that you're thinking about?" It piqued their curiosity and allowed them to get involved with not much heavy-handedness on my part.
Here are some guidelines for setting up your own High Adventure Board:
- Keep it simple. A plain white board that works with dry erase markers will work. Size depends on your work space but it should be large enough to accommodate writing that's visible almost immediately when one enters your work space.
- Make it visible - not for you, for them, the people you work with and those who report to you. Mine was on my office side wall, easily visible from the entrance to my work area.
- Don't write a narrative on a topic. Use phrases (see some of my real examples on the picture.) Your purpose is to stimulate discussion, to create dialogue.
- Call everyone's attention to it. I invited everyone to check out the board on a regular basis, at least once daily.
- Update it frequently. It should be dynamic, a reflection of what's on your mind.
- Keep it future-oriented. I wanted my team to think about the future while they were focusing on the present.
- Use colors, underline things, other symbols (like stars or arrows) to emphasize importance or meaning. I might circle an item in green if I felt we had a good handle on it, in red if I was concerned we weren't making progress.
- Forget about neatness. As long as your entries are legible, that's what matters.