Bringing Innovation to Project Management – Monica Borrell and Jo Wollschlaeger of Cardsmith

Monica Borrell helped forge the revolutionary project management system that supported BP’s clean-up efforts after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Her team’s solution, notably involving multi-colored construction paper and yarn (wee!), proved that low tech is sometimes the right tech. Now, she’s bringing her new and improved digital version to the masses with Cardsmith.

Monica and co-founder Jo Wollschlaeger sat down with us at the Founder’s Media Bootcamp to talk about their product, and the challenges of bringing innovation to an old game: project management software.

Cardsmith is a visual project management platform designed with entrepreneurs in mind. Jo loves entrepreneurs (we know the feeling). “We can understand their pains,” she says. One of those is that a lot of project management systems are too rigid to be useful to most startups. She believes entrepreneurs need less, not more, structure in their project management solution. “You need flexibility in the tool that allows you to go wide or deep as the project or the experience demands.” Sticky notes on a white board is about as simple and flexible as it gets, which is essentially Cardsmith’s model.

It also serves a chunk of the population who’s been feeling left out of the project management game. “A lot of tools I think are geared towards people who love structure,” Jo tells us. “But then there’s an important contingent within these teams, often the creative contingent, who structure just feels like this burden.”

[Cardsmith] supports all these different types of mindsets. It’s a place where people can all come together and collaborate and their processes and perspectives are respected.”

It’s not every day we get to interview bona fide project management grandmasters who specialize in helping entrepreneurs, so we worked Monica and Jo over for startup tips.

You need to be clear with yourself whether you’re building a lifestyle business or a growth business,” Monica says. “Your plan will look very different if you’re trying to build yourself a nice life with a very small team, or you’re trying to build a high-growth business where you’re going to need investors to get involved.”

She also adds,”I would suggest [making] some very aggressive milestones for yourself. Milestones are more key than individual tasks. When are you going to get to your first revenue? When are you going to double your revenue? When are you going to get to your first million dollars?”

How does next week sound?

There’s a lot more gold in Monica and Jo’s full interview. Check it out!

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