I presented “Smash the Box” (Video Clip-Chad in “Smash the Box”) two weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio and during the presentation I showed an image of a whiteboard from a company called, IDEO. At the bottom of their whiteboard they have the words, “please don’t erase.” IDEO is a design and consulting firm that is one of the most innovative, creative, and inspiring companies in the world. What is symbolic about “Please Don’t Erase” is that they allow their employees’ ideas to stay on the board for up to a week which is much different than the majority of companies that erase them after every meeting.
When I talk to groups I say the whiteboard is a symbol of the culture they create during their meetings and at the workplace. When groups and organizations erase their boards after every meeting in essence they are sending two very important messages:
1. Culture of perfection
2. Ideas that were presented didn’t matter
Companies that erase their boards send a message they only want “perfect” ideas or ideas that conform to the group’s vision. Organizations that censor what goes on the board do not create a culture of innovation in that the big, bold, and audacious ideas never make the list. Rather the opposite is created, a culture of this is the way things have always been done and why change it.
In addition, companies also send a subconscious message to their employees that their ideas that were presented really aren’t valuable and won’t be acted upon. This isn’t the companies’ intention, however, this is the message that is conveyed. As a result, group participation and morale suffers as time goes on and boards are erased.
What does your whiteboard look like?
** Chad J. Willett is a motivational speaker, author and creative expert. He writes a weekly blog to unleash our creative energies. Learn more about Chad and his keynotes/ workshops or contact him directly.