Ever heard of a war room? Not to be confused with the 1993 movie, a war room is designed to facilitate ideas and planning. This blog post by Jake Knapp, of Google Ventures, explains how and why they have war rooms. I think that every company should have one of these, but what they should look like is a little different from my perspective.
In his video Jake talks about a war room being an open space, for projects, for planning, for being open to possibilities. This isn’t a boardroom, and it isn’t for meetings; it’s for projects. He goes on to talk about three different reasons why having a war room works well.
- Our spatial memory is better than our short-term memory, so applying a physical location to an idea helps us to remember it and refer back to it.
- Physical ideas (sticky notes, writing on walls, etc.) are easier to rearrange and prioritize than if they were just verbal.
- When everyone is posting ideas on the same wall you can easily see where everyone is at, making the discussion smoother.
These are all great points. They make total sense to me. So what if you don’t have a room to dedicate to your war? Or maybe you can’t have your team all in the same room? Stormboard makes it possible to have a war room without having a physical space. We’d like to think of Stormboard as a war room for an infinite number of projects, while a physical space always has finite limits. Have 10 projects going on at the same time? Easy; just jump back and forth between different storms. You’ll never run out of walls and you won’t have to worry about someone accidentally erasing your ideas. You also won’t spend any time counting up votes or taking photos of sketches because it’s all saved for you already.
By now you might be wondering whether a virtual environment like Stormboard works the same way a physical space like Jake describes does. I questioned the validity of the comparison as well, before I came across this study on the spatial memory development of London taxi drivers and a similar study done in a virtual world. The studies have different goals in mind, but they focus on the same part of the brain: the hippocampus. It’s the part of the brain that records information about one’s environment so you can go back there later. It’s the part that allows you to give someone directions to your house, as well as find a virtual sticky note on a virtual wall. To make a long story short, this means that we use the same process to find a sticky note on a screen as we do on a physical wall.
So now Jake has explained why you need a war room and we’ve given you a way to set one up without leaving your chair, but feel free to leave your chair any time (maybe do some jumping jacks), we’ll still be here when you get back.