Got A Marker? January 15, 2010Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
I’ve got a small confession to make. I am addicted to whiteboards. Not whiteboard markers, mind you, although the odor can be intoxicating. I mean whiteboards.
In meetings, I can hardly stand to not draw on the board. If something is worth talking about, it certainly warrants a diagram or two. I am a big believer in “boxes and lines” diagrams. If any two entities have a relationship, you can create a boxes-and-lines diagram to help express it better. Charts, trees, lists, timelines, you name it: I’d prefer to draw it out.
I’ve noticed that some people share my compulsion and others seem to have no need to leap up and draw things. My need is so great that it was a running joke among some co-workers as to how long I could hold out before jumping to the board. How could anyone live without a whiteboard handy?
Obviously, some people are wired for visual communication and others are not. Some people can read volumes of information and internalize it without the need for pictures. My brain is not so gifted; I need to explicitly render the relationship to fully understand it. I also like to color-code elements if possible, to further elaborate on important aspects of the diagram.
This affection is so bad that when I do not have a whiteboard handy, I am almost at a loss for words. Almost. In a pinch, I’ll sketch on a sheet of paper or a napkin, but it’s not quite the same as a full whiteboard. As much as I love words, they seem incomplete without a diagram.
Don’t get the idea that I’m any sort of artist. When I say “boxes and lines,” I mean boxes and lines and not much more. I once even took a course on how to doodle, learning how to create little people and other elements of quick sketches. It helped a bit, but you won’t find any of my work hanging anywhere anytime soon.
This deep desire leads to one of my fondest dreams: a world where everything is made of whiteboard material. Imagine being able to draw on the walls and doors and tables! A quick sketch on the dashboard of your car (while safely parked, of course) would be a wonderful thing. Jotting a note or two in an elevator or on a credenza might be just the thing to get your idea across in a pinch.
Sadly, as you move up the management ladder, the whiteboards diminish. Cubicle farms and team meeting rooms seem to be covered with whiteboards; management offices tend to have fewer, smaller whiteboards, often hidden behind a wooden panel or a projection screen. People at every level need to draw; why can’t we have whiteboards everywhere?
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