| Jenny Horne

The joke around the Schroeder Design/Build office, in Fairfax, Va., is “Don’t send it to the pink person; she’ll put a lot of notes on it,” says Trish Schroeder, director of marketing and public relations — and the “pink person.” At Schroeder Design/Build, the office staff have a system for editing and revising sales proposals and contracts. Each person reads the document, writes comments, and passes it on to someone else. But readers would inevitably forget to put their initials on their edits, making it difficult for others to figure out who to ask for clarification.

Five years ago, general manager Andrew Schroeder hit on the simple, yet effective, idea of giving each office employee a particular color pen that he or she uses for everything. Andrew is blue, the sales manager red, the selections coordinator green, the director of production black, and the office manager purple.

“It really works well,” says Trish, who approves all the company’s bills. “Everyone can see quickly that if it doesn’t have a pink signature, it can’t go out the door.”