In facilitating learning experiences (virtually) over the last 18 months with leaders who want to be more effective in leading remote or hybrid teams, one of the most common concerns I hear is, “We can’t collaborate without a whiteboard.” This is a limiting view (I’ll explain in a second), but if you want hybrid collaboration you have to believe it is possible.
Is a Whiteboard Required for Collaboration?
I love the strange smell of the dry erase marker and the feel of that pen gliding across that white board as much as anyone. Whiteboards can be a helpful collaboration tool. And I remember back in the days of walking through offices, I saw more whiteboards with months old notes (sometimes with SAVE scrawled on them) than fresh ready-to collaborate spaces. Besides, I can’t find a definition of collaboration that includes the word “whiteboard.”
Even if you do miss the whiteboard, and there is a pristine one in your now-empty conference room, there are ways to replicate a whiteboard online. This isn’t a post about whiteboard (or even collaboration) technology, but I will say that chances are you have at least one tool with the ability to use a whiteboard virtually – possibly more than one. The question is, have you used it? And if you tried it, did you take the time to master it?
It might take longer to master than taking the cap off the pen, but it is worth the effort, and in some cases is more effective than the one in the conference room. Here are three reasons why:
- Because you can type on them, you will be able to read what was written.
- Everyone can write or share from their keyboard or tablet, instead of sharing or passing the marker.
- There are easier ways to save your work (and perhaps even digitally turn your handwriting into a searchable document).
I’ve written plenty more about hybrid collaboration on this recent post on our Remote Leadership Institute blog, but before any of those ideas will work, you must believe that hybrid collaboration is possible and maybe, let go of your longing for the dry erase marker.
And if, as a leader you don’t believe it – or act as if you don’t – your hybrid collaboration will be forever stifled.
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