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A Look Inside: Google Ventures "War Room"

A Look Inside: Google Ventures "War Room"

Mon Apr 14 2014
Last week I came across a great article featured on Fast Company Design (a must read for anyone interested in design) from Jake Knapp: a design partner at Google Ventures, highlighting the importance of having a "War Room" for your design team.  In the article, Knapp states three main reasons why "War Rooms" work so well:
  1. Spatial Memory > Short-Term Memory: War Rooms such as the one that Google Ventures implemented allow people to post information almost anywhere in the room which helps manipulate the brain to take advantage of spatial memory -- which extends your ability to process and remember information.
  2. Physical ideas are easier to manipulate: Knapp advises that re-writing diagrams on whiteboards or rearranging post-it notes is easier and superior than trying to make decisions verbally.
  3. War Rooms Build Shared Understanding: In my experience, this aspect is the most important reason why these rooms work so well.  They inspire collaboration and makes sure that everyone is on the same page, "the more you put on the walls, the more shared understanding you build."

In the article, Knapp states a key ingredient of a great war room is "lots of surface area."  "In a design sprint, it's common to have many things at once: user story diagrams, research notes, printouts of the existing UI, sketches of possible solutions, a detailed storyboard, and sometimes more.  To accommodate all that stuff, you need a lot of space."  Knapp says the best kind of whiteboard to maximize space are floor-to-ceiling wall-mounted whiteboard panels like the Magnetic Whitewall Panels featured in the images and videos above and below.

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