Back to OmniFocus but for a Different Reason Than Usual

This is not another post about OF vs X app based on features, strengths, and weaknesses. This is a post about making a change for two reasons:

  1. Cost
  2. Discovering a solution to resolve a problem I’ve faced–how to use an app., like OF for team collaboration for projects and accountability

For a few years I have been using Asana for all work projects/tasks. I chose Asana because we have large teams with a lot of cross department projects. We are spending nearly $12K/year on Asana but the majority of our staff are not using it consistently nor taking advantage of its advanced features. In short, we are not getting a sufficient PROI. But, I felt stuck given the need for collaborative team-based project work.

I’ve concluded that rather than spend $12k/year for a program not being sufficiently utilized, we will allow each employee to use the application/service of his or her choice (we will pay for the app and for modest subscriptions) and cut out the cost of Asana. Senior leaders are responsible to make sure the work is done and goals met within their departments. We will authorize the use of the free tier of Asana for small teams who are using it well. Though we have provided support, training and lots of strong encouragement, the use of Asana is limited but we do not want to force a particular task management app down the throats of our employees.

This left my original dilemma unresolved; how do I manage cross-department projects and hold people accountable without a service like Asana? I believe I have “solved” the problem sufficiently though not perfectly. I stumbled upon this excellent video, which has convinced me that I can make this work, have the advantages of OF, and save $12K.

Time will tell if this approach will work but I’m hopeful.

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This is interesting and I look forward to how it works out for you. The outcome of this may also assist with a similar situation for a small business im working with.

Please let us know in due course.

I will. You may want to watch the video—he gives a small business example—though simple.

Looks interesting – but aren’t you going to have to manually load team status into OF, putting the burden back on you as leader?

If the teams were not using the automation correctly, making impossible the top level view you’re in need of, how would a wild-wild-west approach that teams can do whatever they want make things better.

Sorry, maybe I’m missing something the video didn’t explain.

Those are legitimate questions. Part of my answer is that I concluded I was tracking too much detail with far too many projects that I was monitoring or directly responsible for. I’m going to take a different approach.

I will add only the project outcomes/goals to my project list tagged with the person responsible. I will not have any details of their projects in my list, though I will obviously have all details for my own projects. Individual senior leaders meet with me every other week and I meet with the entire SLT team on alternate weeks. I’ll get a status update either during the individual or the SLT meetings. After the meetings I’ll note in OF (or my executive administrative assistant will) any items I want to follow-up on in subsequent meetings. They will be responsible for results and tracking everything related to their responsibilities. I will focus only on the status of the project and if it is on track to be completed on time.

In other words, I’m shifting more responsibility to the SLT and I’m moving up to 30K feet. I will look at the runway during the individual meetings. I anticipate, but time will tell, that I will be more strategic in my own work, stay out of the weeds, and shift more detailed responsibility to the SLT. This should simplify my project management needs as I depend on my team to deal with tracking their responsibilities with their teams in whatever way works best for them. They are responsible for results, how they get there is up to them.

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Interesting. I hope you have time down line to repost here on your experience. It’s an standard executive issue, of course. Personally, I’ve had the luxury of a PMO with staff to dog the details and consolidate tracking and reporting, but that’s not always feasible.

At bit on a tangent, but you might be interested in this post. In the referenced interview, Andreessen explains his approach to doing what you’re doing.

I just read that post, it is excellent. I also went and read his essay on building. It too was instructive. Thank you for passing these along.

Thanks for posting that. I can’t easily delegate stuff (the sheep don’t take direction well and I’m not a border collie) but I do have some actions that are sort of delegated that I want to know about and am not responsible for. I’ve set up tags for them based on the people who can do them but was finding those actions still cluttering my own views. Missed entirely the putting them on hold and setting a separate custom perspective for those things. Very helpful.

I am blessed in that my “sheep” are responsible and I can count on them. If I can’t count on my senior leaders then I obviously have the wrong sheep. :slight_smile:

I too found the idea of using delegated tasks with tags and on pause with a custom perspective to be helpful. I’m very early in this process but so far I believe this is going to work.

Have you looked at Notion?
I thought about you while watching August Bradley’s videos on his Life Operating System he created in Notion.
Things like dependent tasks sound like they would be very helpful in projects that require a sequence of tasks to happen. The actions that depend on another action happening aren’t surface until the prerequisite action is completed.
I also like that his system ties action items to pillars to goals, and the effect of executing actions is reflected in the higher levels of the hierarchy.
There’s a lot in the videos, but it looks like a worthwhile investment, for me at least.
It’s also available for teams, and you can share pages with people, so if an individual needed information from one of your databases, notes, etc.

I’ll take a serious look at this but at first glance it seems like it requires a significant investment of time and a steep learning curve.

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I’m going to watch the videos but I’m curious, are you using Notion WITH OF or INSTEAD OF?

I’m using TaskPaper at the moment. Despite a valiant effort, OF never clicked with me, so I haven’t used it in a couple of years.

From what I’ve seen, and as @jmayhugh mentioned in her excellent writeup, Notion is a fitting replacement for OF and several other apps. And I expect Notion to replace my use of TaskPaper too.

I watched several of the videos by August. I don’t think Notion is for me. I do not want to manage my life and tasks in a database that I have to create. That’s more overhead and complexity than I believe I need to get my work done. As far as my life is concerned, I generally have my big rocks and pillars figured out and I am reasonably successful in focusing on those. To be honest, I don’t need the complexity of formal system thinking for my life or my projects. While life can be hard and complex, I believe we sometimes make it more complex than needed.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Attributed to Einstein

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For others who might stumble onto this post, here’s a gentler introduction to Notion than the quite involved system I linked to above.

That is a good video and provides a simple, high level overview. That said, I’m still disinclined to take on yet another application/service to get work done. At some point, for me, good may just have to be “good enough” with the selected tools I’m currently using and my workflow. :slight_smile:

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Sure, didn’t mean to imply I was pushing you to Notion, but it seemed like a good way to close the thread so others that come along won’t think that something as complex as Bradley’s system is de rigueur for Notion in general.

John, I didn’t take it that way at all. I’m intrigued with Notion but I’m talking myself out of trying it. :slight_smile: I don’t believe I want to transfer my OF projects/tasks to Norton (which lacks perspectives, the review function and more-though I suspect there is something in Notion that could substitute) nor replace Apple Notes for note taking given the recent enhancements in Big Sur. The Siren Song of new apps., is strong—I will resist, I will res … :slight_smile:

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Notion looks great, but as long as it won’t have native apps and deep system integration (which is probably never), I’ll stay with my beloved Mac apps :slightly_smiling_face:

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They have apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, unless I’m missing the meaning of ‘native’.