At Trello, we have a “don’t do nothing” mind-set, which is pretty much what it sounds like: If you see a problem that needs to be addressed, just go ahead and make a decision. That decision could be to do nothing at all, but the spirit of the principle is to never assume someone else has it covered.
In fact, collaboration doesn’t really work any other way. If you’re going to commit to working on things together, with all hands on deck, you’ve also got to commit to never sit on the sidelines. But it’s really about empowerment, not reactivity. Here are a few of the ways our own employees (“Trellists,” if you will) use Trello every day with that in mind.
Who has time for repeating themselves? We have a few ways of keeping everybody at Trello up to date. First, we automate the communication of once-weekly team updates through an active Company Overview board that everybody at Trello can access. Every Friday, each team is responsible for commenting on their own project cards with a few bullet points about their progress on whatever they’re working on.
This makes for a continuously updated one-stop shop for everything that’s going on at the company. And for those who don’t have a chance to scan that board for the latest news, there’s a Slack integration that automatically sends those updates to a public #company-overview channel inside Slack. This way anyone can catch up on the feed throughout the day.
We’ve built Trello in order to make every project, plan, and task completely transparent. Cross-team collaboration is a must, so we want to avoid the silo effect of keeping people from entering other teams’ workflows. That’s why most of our team boards have an “Incoming” list where people can drop a question or request about something they’re unfamiliar with, yet considering jumping in on.
Many times, they’ll assign a priority label (green, yellow, or red) to visually indicate urgency. To help get newcomers started, we also equip team boards with “how to use this board” lists, filled with documentation and contact names and roles. These resources all matter. You can’t just make everything open to the whole company and hope people just figure it out on their own; the whole point of transparency is to help get things done. No one should ever feel like they can’t ask a question about somebody else’s project or get involved in it themselves.
Most Trellists would agree this is a serious scroll- (and sanity-) saver: The Trello Chrome Extension lets you pull up a Trello board with a simple keyboard shortcut simply by typing “T” + “Space” into the address bar. Then it autofills the board name as you start to type it.
For repeat tasks like publishing blog posts, processing new job listings, or scheduling emails, we create a checklist of steps to take for each process. Then we’ll copy it over to each new task card to make sure nothing gets missed. (This is extra helpful when you’re filling in for someone on vacation!) Once all the items are checked off, we just mark the due dates as done, which turns them green. That gives users who are scanning the board a visual cue that the task has been completed.
We often use a board to organize conference notes and images, especially when we have a group attending a major event. A new addition to Trello’s Google Drive integration (we call our integrations “Power-Ups”) lets you generate a presentation in Google Slides based on all the cards on a Trello board–with a single click.
Once your company or team is committed to using a collaboration tool to get things done, the best way to avoid constant (and annoying) context switching is to figure out just how many ways that one tool can be used. We might use our Editorial Calendar every day, for instance, but the Package Tracking Power-Up can turn a Trello board into a swag-shipping center.
We’ve found ways to use Trello for everything from meal planning to employee onboarding, and whenever we hear about creative ways other people use the platform to get things done, we often share them with all our users. The more people, teams, and companies that don’t do nothing, the better.
Michael Pryor works for Atlassian as the head of Trello and is cofounder of Fog Creek Software. He lives in New York with his wife and two daughters.