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Tales from a Trading Desk Blog Header

Sydney: The 5 Day, White Board Rule

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 19:44:23 GMT

In life we all live by certain rules. In work we have to adhere to certain rules and constrains. Two “rules” I like to follow are:

  • Make an impact in 5 days or less – a colleague I recently had a beer with reminded me that he recalls this “rule” 14 or so years ago when he and I first worked together. Interestingly, he now spreads the word on this ‘rule” :)
  • If there’s a white board in the room, use it. So many people don’t get the benefit of white boards and hence real-time visualisation of the problem. Many people are scared to stand up and draw in a meeting, maybe they are worried about the audience. Get over it is my view. The white board is a key tool in understanding problems, and designing software solutions to solve business problems.

So lets turn to the 2nd rule above, and how this is impacted by business travel. When I travel for business to help client on the road to understanding and developing new business solutions, I find I always use white boards extensively when in meetings, and while brain storming with colleagues. One of the problems I find with travel is that I don’t have a white board in my hotel room/corporate apartment :(

Clients usually have a selection of whiteboard technology, from the basic whiteboard on the wall – remember to carry your own pens, as this is often the next problem you run into. The next step up from the basic whiteboard is the meeting rooms with a screen board – i.e. a whiteboard with printer attached. These screen boards aren’t bad, but I always find the print out provided isn’t clear enough, and every time I’ve do a print, its always black and white (do they actually do colour printers?), but I’ve used colours to annotate the data on the board, or there is information lost. Which leads to the iPhone collection of whiteboard photo’s being stored :)

Which leads us to the">smart boards, or interactive boards, which from a quick Google, look to be the latest technology in this space. Check out this video of the touch gestures. I can only hope we see smart board technology in the near future in the financial services meetings rooms that I spend most of my life in, and not just a piece of technology for the board room.

I’m sure Smart boards would save me some of the time I waste in erasing, re-drawing, moving data from one part of the board to another due to running out of space. I’ve never used a smart board, but if I could draw a rectangle, and ideally the smart board would “improve” the straightness of the lines, allow me to shrink and expand the rectangle via gestures, add text etc, and then drop the image to OmniGraffle or similar, I’d be sold on them.

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