What happens when a small, scrappy (and productive) team finds the perfect software to propel their teamwork to the stratosphere?
Ok, so maybe the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana isn’t a success story about a local government embracing Trello to power their digital transformation but... one can dream, right?
The antics of Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, and other characters often showcase the challenges of organizational inefficiencies, frustrating bureaucracy, and a lack of transparency—all things that any department can overcome with a great process and tools to match.
As a fun exercise, we wanted to imagine how the characters on the show could have benefitted from a tool like Trello. From town halls to selecting park finishes and every happy hour in between, Trello would have enabled the small and mighty team to better organize their work and get more done.
Here are four different plot lines from the show and how a Trello board may have helped the team overcome the obstacles in their way (and how you can apply these lessons to your own!).
Managing Those 93 Meetings
You sit down to begin your workday. The coffee’s still hot and you’re ready to tackle your to-dos. There’s just one problem when you open your calendar: You have 93 meetings today. 😳
In this episode, the Director of the Parks & Recreation Department, Ron Swanson, discovers that he has been scheduled to handle 93 meetings in a single day due to a scheduling error made by April, his intern. Throughout the day, Ron furiously scrambles to deal with all the meetings.
I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I could keep track of action items, plans, and initiatives stemming from this many meetings (but then again, maybe you have superpowers and I don’t).
With a Trello board, they would have been able to easily manage and track each of the meetings and resulting conversations. Maybe, just maybe, some of the meetings could have just been an asynchronous conversation with the right process and tools in place.
Even though you (hopefully) face significantly fewer meetings on an average day, having a method in place to capture the important parts is still valuable. Try out this Trello template to supercharge your next meeting.
Use this template to add some collaborative jazz to managing your meetings—gather agenda items, create actionable plans, and create a solid history of discussion for posterity to stay on track.
A Digital Space For Cleaning Up A Messy House
Let’s be real, it’s unlikely that your home will be showcased on HGTV anytime soon. This is especially true for the not-so-organized home of Leslie Knope, the Deputy Parks Director. Scrambling before a dinner party to clean up the stacks of work-related boxes, paper, and binders in her house, Leslie finds herself trying to quickly manage an overwhelming amount of information.
When it’s stuffed away in boxes or scribbled on a piece of paper, knowledge and information that’s inaccessible won’t enable your team to do their best work. In these days of hybrid and remote work, digitizing your organization’s knowledge, processes, and systems is more important than ever.
Did you know that the average U.S. knowledge worker spends 5.3 hours each week looking for information to do their job? That’s nearly an entire day!
Unlocking this information benefits teams in two ways: Reducing the time needed to find valuable information and enabling everyone to benefit from shared knowledge.
Once again, Trello could have helped here by enabling Leslie to store team resources, schedules, project summaries, updates, and more on a central Trello board that’s visible to the entire team.
With team information organized, her home doesn’t need to look like a contender to be on Hoarders. Trello might’ve been the answer by serving as the digital hub for the Parks Department and Leslie’s brain.
Try this template to quickly create a centralized knowledge base for your team. It’s easy to get started and even easier to maintain over time.
On this board, you can add important team resources (like FAQs or documentation, collaborative details (like schedules or project assignments), and anything else to share the wealth of information your team has.
Transparency is important for any government agency to get things done. At Trello, we’re big believers that working in the open leads to better clarity about work, making the team feel empowered and on the same page.
Chris Traeger, the upbeat city manager, wants Parks Director, Ron Swanson, to switch to a 360° desk in the center of the office—all in the name of transparency.
He’s got the spirit... but maybe not the execution.
Instead of putting a circular desk in the office lobby to field questions and share updates, a better option is using a shared Trello board that provides agency teams the optimal level of access and visibility. Trello makes it easy to keep everyone up-to-date and in sync.
Give this request process template a try to transparently up your work game. This board will help you bring your work together in one place (especially if you regularly field questions/requests from others). Work comes in, great results come out!
With transparency at the front of your work, prioritizing the right requests on that next project will be a breeze. You won’t even have to put an introvert on display in front of the department—no matter how fun that desk looks.
Juggling the details of any event is no small task, let alone a huge festival for your entire town. Leslie and her team manage to pull off a resoundingly successful event with only a few hiccups along the way.
The episode highlights the need for a way to manage event details—no matter how big or small (like Little Sebastian). Events are rarely successful without a good plan to tackle all the tasks and a team in place to accomplish all the moving parts leading up to the big day.
While you’re probably not hosting in-person events right now, you may find yourself planning virtual events. Just because your new venue is a digital one doesn’t mean all the important details and tasks just take care of themselves.
So next time you find yourself putting together an event (hopefully it involves a small horse and plenty of fried Oreos), try out this planning board to help you capture all the details. All your resources, tasks, and key pieces of information can live together and flow seamlessly from start to finish.
Bonus: Tom’s Ventures
Budding entrepreneur and long-time government worker, Tom Haverford, makes several attempts throughout the show to start businesses. While he eventually transcends to the mogul-status he always dreamed of, we can’t help but wonder what he could’ve done with Trello along the way?
- Entertainment 720: Facing a dried-up pipeline and little-to-no prospects, the flashy media startup could’ve used a Sales Pipeline board to make a desperately needed 180.
- Rent-A-Swag: With a tight budget and dire need of cash flow, Tom can’t waste any time getting his new store launched. A Project Management board could’ve kept him on budget and ahead of schedule.
- Tom’s Bistro: This hip, fast-casual Italian restaurant could’ve generated even more buzz with a great Social Media Marketing board.
How We Can All Work Better, Together
While Parks and Recreation may be political satire, the series does help highlight the opportunities that the public sector has to be more productive and collaborative—especially by finding tools that help us do more. Trello is here to help government agencies with that very task.
Good or bad, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!