I’m in a situation, where there is so much disorganization (non-profit) that everything moves slower than molasses.
I tried everything simple (Google Groups, Spreadsheets, Google Docs, some Google Apps-like), yet, nothing works. It doesn’t make sense to move to something more complicated.
OF is the quickest to manage and process (even it could be quicker), but it isn’t build for sharing. HTML export sucks because of the hyperlink issue, CSV would be a headache. I’m giving up.
What to do?
Non-tech savvy people will do things their way. I suspect that they would love to keep it simple and say “give me my tasks and don’t bother me with the rest.” All that other administrative stuff goes back to the me.
I think I just use OmniFocus to take of my end. My other coworkers have their own way of dealing with task lists. Some feel better with a printed list. Others are putting it into their task manager of choice (usually Microsoft Outlook).
I usually have evidence that I assigned a task list to someone else. I print out a copy of their tasks and give one copy to them. Then I ask them to sign or initial a document that showed I assigned it to them on this date. I include a due date to make sure they know when I expect the task list finished.
In the mid-week follow up, I ask if there are any issues. Usually I might have thought the steps wrong and the person doing the work might actually have a better and faster way of doing things. i ask for their input and hopefully agree on a revised deadline or request for the proper tools to get things done. Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing that the person doesn’t have the correct tools and getting it for them (if possible).
Other times, it might be that I was not thoroughly thinking out the proper next actions. Then I need to revisit with the person to help determine the proper next actions on their list and capture it back into OmniFocus for myself. Only someone on the front line knows what it is like being in the weeds. Sometimes I can’t see the proper next actions unless I am actually at the front line with the person.
In the end, sometimes it’s the workflow. Not getting the correct next actions, not getting the proper tools, or assigning it the wrong person (who doesn’t have the required skills or time available).
I have had great success using personal Kanban boards with OF. My Kanban boards are electronic. I have a left-most column for the Project and sequential columns to pull tasks across Pending, Next, Active, and Done. I have a URL link on the Kanban Project back to the OF Project. I pull along “action groups” on the Kanban in relation to where I sit in carrying out the OF Project.
Based on my experience, I would think that even non-tech folks should be able to grasp the utility of using a prominently displayed “pull-it-forward” list of tasks required to complete a project.
So, my suggestion from my experience and from your details is therefore something rather simple and completely away from using a “computer tool”. Get a physical whiteboard and post it prominently in the office. Lay it out to be a Kanban board. Make four columns left-to-right: Project, Pending, Next, Active, Done. Use post-it-notes for Project names and task statements. You could use different color notes or not. You be responsible to keep the details of Projects in OF. You be responsible to translate those details (Project + pending tasks) back and forth between OF and the Kanban board. Then otherwise, delegate the responsibilities appropriately to other “team members” to do their jobs to pull tasks forward to complete projects.
@DrJJWMac: Now, I’m interested. What electronic Kanban program are you using?
@kamil : There are also many YouTube videos showing the power of Kanban boards. Those would be great to help illustrate how to work with your coworkers.
I rolled my own in Curio. I have a thread here. I long ago promised the Curio group that I would post an update to my Kanban methods. Here’s a “teaser” showing my newest layout. On my personal board, my spouse and I have an apartment to prepare, a house to sell, and furniture to place in the new house.
The Projects (left-most column) link back via URLs to their companions in OF. The Status Shelf in Curio gives me an overview filtering on the various tags that I set on the Projects, Actions, and Kanban columns. For example, the hour-glass column is “Pending”, the traffic light is “Next”, the sunshine is “Active”, and the checkmark is “Done”.
@DrJJWMac impressively uses Curio, and has kindly shared a lot of his workflow on this and the Curio forums.
Another Web service I like is Trello. I agree that a physical whiteboard might be just what the OP needs for his/her team, but Trello worked really well for me with people who were’t afraid to try something new in order to be more effective. The key is working on the front-end to gain buy-in and trust from your team. You have to be willing to follow through with troubleshooting as a way of proving that a new process is better for everyone.