By Kevin Meyer
Well the elections have come and mostly gone. Somewhat interesting to watch, but I'll reserve any commentary except to say that living in a state governed by someone with the nickname "Moonbeam" is going to be interesting.
All the news channels were out in full force with the latest and greatest in social media and gee-whiz electronic graphics displaying data from every conceivable perspective. Screens were filled with colored graphs, charts, numbers. Every outlet tried a slightly different concept, which was annoying for some of us who popped between sites.
Then one channel, Fox News of all places, broke out an old tried-and-true method – the whiteboard. By scribbling, circling, and crossing out less meaningful numbers Chris Wallace deftly described a complex situation in a few seconds that would have taken an hours of pointing to electronic numbers.
The power of manual visual management. A week or so ago I told you about a study on how handwriting is important for learning and comprehension. The concept is the same. There's a difference between seeing glitzy electronic numbers and physically writing them. Perhaps that's why one of my favorite iPad apps is the Virtual Whiteboard.
One of the local stations in Atlanta had a large electronic touchscreen (basically a giant iPad) that also served as an electronic white board. The news team would bring up large graphics and tables, but would also scribble numbers on the board with their fingers. It was pretty slick.
You *can* have both, Kevin. :-)
Jason – you’re right. As I mentioned one of my favorite iPad apps is Virtual Whiteboard which combines electronic and manual. I recently saw a rather amazing demo of an iPad app at a local university. The textbook as on the iPad in electronic format, the student was able to scribble (or type) notes “into” the textbook on the iPad, the “textbook” included video and audio segments. But get this… as the professor was showing PowerPoint presentations and scribbling on his own large electronic whiteboard at the front of the room all of that information was also streaming into the iPad. Everything was linked together and available to the student in one place. Incredible. Now put five or six classes together onto the same iPad – should we be selling all of our stock in backpack makers?
Scott Sorheim says
Whether the medium is dry erase or electronic, there is definitely something compelling about being part of the idea “taking shape”.
Was part of a great discussion last week where someone was starting to sketch out something on the white board while the discussion continued among others, and it is so much more engaging and informative to see the idea go from “point A” to “point B” rather than just have a slide appear out of thin air with the concept fully mapped or drawn.
The white board provides focus to the listener/viewer/audience rather that having to scan some behemoth info-graphic to try to discover what’s important or relevant.
There is a correlation to the mind’s ability to remember or understand concepts when drawn in a picture based format, especially in a series of ever-evolving steps. The concept of ‘mind mapping’ is not new (or new to Lean), but I find I can increase comprehension and decision making ability in any meeting by drawing out the process we are attmpting to improve or ‘showing the math’ around financial decisions by walking through the scenario. A white board or an application that allows that kind of functionality will always have its place in meetings and classrooms.
Jeff Warman says
More to the point in the factory setting… The factory I work in spent years and tons of $$$ installing 42″ monitors displaying the various process indicators and trends ostensibly for the benefit of our operators and technical staff… In the end, it became wallpaper, largely ignored despite the usefulness of the displayed data. We took a step back, and had the operators manually log their performance on a large log sheet posted near their machines, and Viola! Instant engagement! Yeah, maybe a little bump from Mr. Hawthorne, but the tactile and personal nature of putting in writing the measure of one’s performance definitely gets you focused on why the number is high or low which is exactly the point.
david foster says
A British general remarked that in preparing for a battle, he found it useful to draw his own simple map of the situation, concentrating on what he viewed as the essentials without the great detail shown on the preprinted maps.