QT: Slack and Trello

QT: Slack and Trello

Great tools, if you use them as they should be used.


Sun, 2 Dec 2018 04:27:54 GMT


QT: We use both Slack and Trello, not always as they should be used. I talk a bout how this causes unneeded stress on distraction within the team.



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Hey folks! This is Dave Albert for a quick take. Hello friends, in this episode I’m going to talk to you about slack versus Trello.

What? They’re different tools, yes they are. They also should be used as different tools. Alright, so what do I mean by that in the past I’ve talked about how process is hard. No, I take that back good process is hard changing process is easy, a process forming through habit is easy, having it be right for you and your team that’s bloody hard and we haven’t found it yet.

I’m very focused on trying to make that work not, because I like overhead … It’s actually the opposite of that, I hate overhead I want the process to get the hell out of my way. Now how do we do that? Not great, do make sure that I’m constantly asking all of us what we could do better, what could we stop doing, what could we do differently that may help. What are we doing that is absolutely wrong, what’s causing problems, what’s giving us stress, what’s making it hard to focus on the work that we need to do.

The Basecamp guys, DHH - David Heinemeier Hoffman? sorry DHH, I can’t remember tonight because it’s always DHH and Jason Friedman? Good grief, I should probably do a six-second amount of research before starting these quick takes. It would take less time than actually waffling during the during the actual episode. Yeah. David David Heinemeier Hansson, sorry, DHH. Say the book they have now which is, so they had rework first. Actually, that wasn’t first, all the books that they put out are very good. And I was really excited with the latest one, I think it’s work doesn’t have to be crazy. Actually, I’m going to pause this for one second.

And we’re back. Sorry about that promise to try to do better in the future. So David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried of Basecamp, formerly 37 Signals latest book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work”. This actually came at the perfect time for me, because I was realizing that our process was out of whack. We use Trello for task management. Now, I’ve talked a little bit in the past about how we use Productboard for our road mapping. It’s currently not perfect, it’s us, not necessarily the tool, which is often the case, but we’ll do what you do to it.

Now, there’s a lot of where a tool will do what you needed to. And that can cause issues. But this isn’t about that. This is about how we basically have a band in Trello with slack. Slack is great for real-time communication. Now, is real-time communication always right? No, it is not. Sometimes it’s necessary. But often what happens is people will get a. an idea and they don’t want to lose the idea. And they want to make sure that the person that that needs to know about it, hears about it until the posted in Slack.

We as a startup do have a sense of urgency. But a sense of urgency needs to be focused, focused specifically on what’s most important at the time not what’s at the top of somebody’s mind. So if I have some idea, and I’m like, Oh, yes, we need to make sure that we take care of that. And a ping in a channel in the design channel, hey we need to make sure that we get x done. If there’s not enough discipline within the team and especially since I am one of the leaders of the company that can make our designer think that he needs to focus on that now, even though the thing that he was already working on was blocking an iOS developer. And so that blocks release, which then has a continuous knock on effect that should have been a Trello ticket, or actually probably should have been a comment on Productboard or a Trello ticket.

Now, how do we overcome that? I’m not sure we’re still working on it. One of the things is always, you know, make sure that you represent to timeframe that something matters, but also trying to use the right tool for the job and ensuring that your team are comfortable pushing back with what is the timeframe if you didn’t give it, don’t assume it’s an immediate need. And in fact, I think that might be something we have to do within our team is let’s just say that unless stated otherwise, it’s not urgent as opposed to thinking everything is urgent all the time.

So if you spend all day long, switching between 30-40 different tasks, even if they only take a couple of minutes each, you never get back to the thing that you were supposed to be doing, because it was the most important thing we all agreed on. So the way we’re trying to make sure that we work Trello tasks have the majority of the discussion about the details of a project, Productboard has comments about the higher level status of did I say project? Project’s not the right word task, feature set, deliverable basically, yeah, deliverable. So higher level comments about a deliverable should be in Productboard, the details, the nitty-gritty, the … I need an API endpoint, I need this to have this property as opposed to that property.

This element doesn’t work, let’s let’s refactor with this this bit, those should all be in Trello. The how do you think we should do this bit? That has to be a discussion, right? So either if a video chat doesn’t suit, then that should be probably a thread in Slack, it most likely should not be in a private message. That’s one thing that we’re not very good at either is making sure that important information is an exchange within private messages or direct messages because then it’s lost, its invisible to everyone else on the team. So if I and a developer discussing something in a private message, make decisions, and then don’t document that and say, the Trello ticket and it’s gone forever.

If we have it in Slack, at least we can copy the link to that slack discussion and paste that into the Trello ticket or search through slack for keywords that would indicate what that was. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re always going to have it should probably be in Confluence somewhere where we store all of our documentation. But then again, how much documentation do we necessarily want, that one that’s a whole another episode. I don’t know know what to say about that one. Because we’re not we’re not great with that either. But we have some very valuable information in there. But as with any wiki-type system, without constant pruning, it turns into a messy garden.

Yeah. So I don’t really have answers for you on slack versus Trello, other than how not to do it if you start to have all of your discussions, not discussions, necessarily. But basically, if slack becomes task management, things get lost, because that’s not what it’s designed for. What you’re doing is forcing the task management into the heads of everyone in your team. And that’s a terrible place for, people forget things there’s so much going on, it’s not visible to anyone. If someone wants to go and find out the status of something, guess what they have to do? Ask on slack. So what happens then? They’re just a discussion about the status and there’s a Oh, yeah, I was going to ask you about this bit of it. Alright, so here’s the decision on that, by the way, that reminded me What about this? So then everybody gets distracted and lost, and they lose the ability to focus and deliver on what should be delivered on because everyone’s decided that that’s the most important thing to support the goals of the company or the product or both.

So yeah, I don’t know. I hope that helps you. That’s what’s inside my head. And don’t be like we have been be like we aspire to be. If you’ve got ideas or thoughts, please let me know if you’ve if you know, the right way. Show me the way I will follow, but it’s hard. So if you’re having a hard time don’t feel alone. I’ve yet to find someone who loves their process, who does not have a product owner and a scrum master and that’s regardless of whether you’re Scrum Kanban, Kanban or Scrum Ban or whatever whatever your process is, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know anyone who finds their full process perfect.

So, yup as always, you can email me at [email protected] or on Twitter @dave_albert. Bye.

Until next time, remember, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.