How Workflow Therapy can change the way your team works together

By Cristina Mondini

The horror of today

Our jobs have become... a lot. Think of everything we have to do on top of our regular work:

  • We have to drop everything and pivot onto urgent, high-visibility projects.
  • We have to learn new processes, only to have them scrapped when they turn out to be a bad fit for our workflow.
  • Workplace churn is higher than it's ever been, and we have to pick up the pieces when people take their valuable knowledge with them.
  • And we already have tons to do.

Sometimes it seems like no one knows what's going on or what the next step is. Why are we working this way?

To be honest, we just want get our work done. But when we spend our day in back-to-back meetings, drowning in emails, how do we even find time to do it? Do we hide in a conference room where people can't distract us? Or—gulp—do we do it at home, after-hours, when we should be spending time with our family and friends, relaxing with a glass of wine?

That's just the state of work today, right?


It's time to take a step back. Think: Is the process we've been using for the last twenty projects actually working? Are people happy? Do they feel like they're contributing meaningfully and that we're putting out work we're proud of?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you're not alone.

Our team at Quip works with employees from all walks of life—from media to manufacturing, from field workers to C-suite executives. And what we've found is that all organizations need workflow therapy. You may be thinking:

  • “I don't have time for that.”
  • “Is this just another process I'm going to learn and then forget about immediately?”
  • “What is that, even?”

Well, guess what? If you had time to open this article, you have the time, the curiosity, and, most important, the desire to make your teams happier and more efficient. So let's do it.

Introducing Workflow Therapy

Everybody needs a little therapy, right? It's important to talk things out, learn where the pain is and how it originated, and think about ways to make your (work) life better from here. So, let's apply those same principles and “therapize” your workflows. Take 30 minutes on these two steps and make your work world a better place.

Part 1: Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my team responsible for? Not a mission or vision, just a plain description. See if you can do it five words.
  • Where are we located? What challenges are location-related? Is your team scattered across time zones? Are your customers? Does it make it hard to get everyone on the same page?
  • How do I spend my workday? How much time do I spend in email, in meetings, looking for things you've lost track of? What are you doing when you're not executing on work?
  • How does my team spend their workday?  How much time do they spend in email, in meetings, looking for things they've lost track of? What are they doing when they're not executing on work? Ask them individually, you might be surprised by the answers!
  • What is causing me anxiety with work right now? Write down what you're feeling, it's okay, it's just for you.
  • What are your big projects right now?  And what deliverables are coming due?
  • What's a process that seems to be just taking far too much time? What's generating extra emails and endless attachments? What's keeping people from getting on the same page? What just feels like time wasted?

Okay! Now that you've explored the problem, what about the solution? That's what we're going to figure out in step 2...

Part 2: “Be the change you want to see.” —Ghandi

  • Choose a large, tricky project with big deliverables—one of the ones you came up with above.
  • Draw a best possible solution to managing it. How would you erase all those problems you sketched out in part one?
  • Build it in Quip! Consider the features you can use to make it the most effective it can be, like a Kanban board, Calendar, Diagram, @mentions, and anything else that'll make it easier for you and your team to get aligned as painlessly as possible.
  • Get feedback from one or two of your closest coworkers.
  • Share it to with everyone!

Need an example? You got it. See below 👇

Hi team,

In an effort to minimize meetings and back and forth, I'd like for us to try this new way of going about PROJECT NAME. I'm pretty proud of how it's coming together, and I think this is going to be great for us. Check it out, I will present it in our next team meeting. In the meantime, send your feedback and ideas my way.

Excited to work with you on this!

New Workflow Example

Yes, this is in Quip. But, hey! I believe in this product. It's visual, easy to collaborate in real-time with your team, and enables you talk about work as you're executing on the work. Plus, no need for navigating Email + Chat + Document + Spreadsheet + Slides + Wiki. See for yourself.

Try the Project Page Template [link] to give your team full transparency to who's working on what.

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