Post-It Note Impression No. 14 (Photo credit: Kevin H.)
Should an organization use a physical visualization of workflow (such as a whiteboard and sticky notes) or an electronic one?
Personally, I prefer the physical ones. They tend to be way more visible, easier to have group discussions around, any changes are immediately visible as they occur, and physically moving those cards around releases endorphins.
There are decent reasons for electronic versions, though, especially if your team is distributed. Also, whiteboards don’t do cool automatic calculations and reporting. The main issue is that using an electronic tool can sometimes reduce actual interaction and collaboration, which is something tools should facilitate rather than replace.
Until recently, the best anti-whiteboard argument I’d heard was this:
I don’t like a physical whiteboard because I have to walk all the way over to it whenever I want to know something.
This came from someone who sat about twenty feet away. We’re still considering buying him a spyglass.
This was the reigning champion until I heard the objections, below. Individually, either objection is a solid contender, but when you consider they both came from the same person less than two minutes apart, they become the gold standard for anti-whiteboard objections. They are:
When people walk by the board too briskly, the sticky notes can come off.
Sometimes, the cards are hard to move if they stick too much.
So, if your office is populated by world-class sprinters or chronic arthritics, you might consider an electronic solution.