A great way to make sure that you’re exerting momentum, and not just motion, is to have and use a giant whiteboard for tracking your employees’ tasks. I talk about just how to do that today:

I know a manager who insisted on having only stand-up meetings. If he couldn’t accomplish what needed to be done within five minutes, he wouldn’t meet at all.

My favorite way to handle meetings is to gather my team around a whiteboard and give each person a chance to answer the question, “What are your tasks today?” We all take turns writing a brain dump of each and every single item on our to-do list for the day. At this point, we don’t try to prioritize.

As soon as it’s all up on the whiteboard, we ask ourselves, “Which are the most critical items on the list? Which ones are vital to move us forward and make us successful?” Typically, 10 percent of the list ends up in this category, marked with a big, red A. The rest get marked as Bs, Cs, and on down to Ds, helping us organize precisely what we need to focus on.

We all have our favorite tasks, but we won’t get anywhere by just working in our comfort zones all day long. Using the whiteboard this way is like putting a steering wheel on your day—you steer the ship and sail each hour exactly where you need to go.

A nice side benefit to this exercise is that everyone has a good handle on what everyone else is doing. This enhances collaboration and community, and helps keep the energy up. It also provides a clear division of responsibility, prevents you from doubling up on the same tasks, and keeps your group from accidentally leaving some assignments untouched. Finally, it gets you back to work more quickly.

Porter’s Points – The Five-Minute Whiteboard

• How long do you spend in meetings each week? Cut that in half.
• Buy a whiteboard if you don’t already have one (and make it a big one). This way, everybody can see how their tasks tie into yours and yours into theirs.
• You will be tempted to coordinate and troubleshoot simply by using email. Save email for mundane needs; when it comes to saving time, focus on ensuring understanding. A five-minute, face-to-face session of whiteboarding can save a five-hour, frustrating flurry of emailing.
• When you whiteboard, you control your team’s momentum. Everybody has their to-do list, but you need to be sure that the A priorities drive your team to accomplish your company goals.
• Review that day’s or week’s goals before and after, allowing everyone to brainstorm so you can all get back to work with speed and precision.

So go get a whiteboard! And get ready for next time when we talk about walking and talking…