Home > silicon valley, snarky, tech > Things that tick me off: gratuitous office whiteboard usage

Things that tick me off: gratuitous office whiteboard usage

The whiteboard is a sacred Silicon Valley office artifact. No matter how scrappy your startup, if you ain’t got 2 whiteboards for every warm body in the office/garage/homeless-box, you ain’t a real company.

The whiteboard is a company’s mission statement, its values, its creed and its soul rolled into a smooth white surface. Whenever I walk into a startup’s office, I look at their whiteboards like women look at their date’s shoes. Are they squeaky clean because the admin has a mild case of OCD (no joking matter, btw)? Are they littered with pseudocode scribbles because some engineer drank down a 40 and decided to show off? Did someone draw a naughty version of Dijkstra’s shortest path (don’t ask)?

As with shoes and men, you can tell a lot about a company from their whiteboards.

That’s why I’m pissed off when people use whiteboards for stupid, obvious shit that discredits the written form. I’m in a meeting and we’re brainstorming ideas, discussing tasks for a project, figuring out timelines. Someone will invariably stand up suddenly and motion excitably with a hand wave; they’re looking for a marker.

At this point, I get myself primed! I clear my brain; something interesting is about to happen. Maybe he’ll write down an algorithm that will solve my problem. Maybe he’ll just scrawl a mathematical formula John Nash-like and demonstrate to me superior intellect while I nod along like a chump. Sometimes, I just blank my brain and get ready to be schooled like I’m back in junior high.

But then they pick up the stupid marker and start making a dumb list. Or put down a stupid non sequitur like “Its about persistence”. Or start drawing a crude Gantt chart, which just makes my head explode.

People: whiteboards are for math, code and software architecture diagrams that are simply too beautiful to be put down on Visio. Do NOT draw dumb “strategy boxes” on them.

This shit has to stop (random aside, I’m thinking about copyrighting that line. Idea of the year?).

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