I’m not one for New Years’ Resolutions, but this year I promised myself I’d tackle something I’ve been really wanting to do: try out some new tools. As a consultant with multiple priorities and projects, I knew there were better ways to do things. I just needed to give them a try.  I’ll be writing a short post for each tool, and I hope you’ll embark on these changes with me!

Tool: Trello

What does it do? Trello helps you organize just about anything you can imagine: work projects, home activities, and more.

What makes it special? It’s simple concept: a board with “lists” and “cards” that facilitates team collaboration. It reminds me of an exercise I love to do in groups: Place flip chart pages (“lists”) around the room with different topics and then the team adds post it notes (“cards”) with items related to that topic on the appropriate flip chart page. You can move the post it notes (“cards”) from one list to another. And you can add all kinds of information (attachments, comments, checklists, etc.) to your “cards”.

How did I use it?  After quite a bit of trial and error, I think I finally figured out the best uses for our team:

  • Project Board: I created a board for each “project”. The lists were perfect for different things we need to manage: Meeting Notes, Issues, Change Champions, and Activities. The checklists you can add to cards are especially helpful for tracking activities and due dates.
  • People Board: Do you always carry lists of questions for people? I have a few people that I just have running lists of topics, questions, and more. Trello is great for creating a board by person and then adding lists like “questions”, “review / approve”, and “discussion items”. You can move cards from one list to another as you work. What’s even better? You can even give the person access to the board, so they can interact as well.

All in or All out?  I’m all in!

Tips and Tricks

  • A focused Trello Board is most effective.
  • Start with the end in mind: what are you collaborating on or tracking?
  • Try out all of the great options: checklists, adding attachments, and to do lists. We learned how to share our personal notes from OneNote and Evernote. This has given us the opportunity to reference things we could only email or share verbally before!

Change is hard. Even as a consultant that coaches clients through change, I had to shift my habits to intentionally use the tool. Our team had to make some concerted efforts to figure out what would really help us work better together. We even had to discuss our incentives to use it. By taking our own advice that we give to others about change, along with some trial and error, we are on our way to much more collaborative work environment!

Cheryl Farley