War Rooms v2.0

In the past, war rooms were strategic places in army camps where the decision makers had the tools and information to decide their military movements and actions, as we can see in movies like Dr. Strangelove, or more recently, in Game of Thrones.

While the context of use of a “war room” has changed since then, the concepts and impacts of using one remain the same. They rely on three big pillars that will become the foundations to build successful projects in your company:

  1. Dedicated place
  2. Key information sharing
  3. Organised and direct collaboration

Dedicated place

Neither an unused office nor a meeting room; a war room has to be a specific place that will only be dedicated for projects (one at a time) and/or missions around them.

It is important that teams take ownership of the room and make full use of the available space. A key characteristic of a war room is that every surface should be usable: walls are whiteboards and/or full of post-its, posters or any interesting content. This is spacialisation: to externalise minds and ideas in order to get them “physically available to touch, see, organise” (Invisionapp, 2016).

On this basis and thanks to the fact that it is editable — ideas are not frozen —, a war room is a room-sized communication tool that promotes making new connections as well as finding new insights and generating problem solutions.

Key information sharing

Due to its accessibility, the war room should become a controlled source of information for every person involved in the project. It will be the communication center not only for teams, but also for leaders, contributors, and stakeholders. It will allow posting and keeping record of key aspects of the project “that may include change notices, requests for immediate actions and/or decisions, general status updates” (Williams, 2015). That is the basis of an organised collaboration that allows teams to adapt quickly and efficiently.

Organised collaboration

Gathering everybody in the same location and getting everyone on the same page has a lot of benefits. Knowing what everyone is doing and allowing direct communication will boost creativity, honesty, and promote helping each other. It will also improve confidence, team commitment, and give a feeling of shared responsibility.

Access to information will provide team knowledge and result in well-informed decision making.

Additionally, even if a war room has to be considered like a place where classical hierarchy doesn’t matter, it can be very useful to designate a facilitator. That person will act as the conductor, who the team can rely on. Her/his role will be to master all the information, clearly define the goals of each session, keep everyone on task, and set directions when needed.

In short, organised collaboration will result in optimising the iteration process (less wasted work), the efficiency and the working speed of the teams.

How to setup your war room?

Now that we have seen the benefits of hosting a war room in your company, and that you have assigned a dedicated room to it, here are three guidelines to make it real:

  1. Maximise your space: install whiteboards, chalkboards, use walls themselves (pin-it information and/or paint them with Ideapaint (http://www.ideapaint.com)), flipcharts, post-its, and keep them up-to-date — add in all new or updated information.
  2. Make changes: use flexible furniture and open seating so that you can transform your space quickly, and add some mess into the room — let the wild creativity get inside it.
  3. Use it!: as long as you need it, and “only exit the room with clear responsabilities and accountabilities for next steps” (Wodtke, 2015).

Now, give it a chance, encourage people to use it, and let your projects reach another dimension. Would you like to give a war room a try, contact us, we’ve got a plan cooking!