Why Tribe Made Every Task Have an Assignee

June 2, 2016
Oliver Stahl

With Tribe, every task has an assignee. Let me repeat that, every task has an assignee.

Occasionally, we get asked “In Tribe, can I create a task that doesn’t necessarily have an assignee? We have a team of people and we want them to just grab tasks from an open list.” Our answer is always the same, “No, every task has an assignee.” We usually get a surprised answer back like “Well, that’s not how we work”.

I’m sorry to say, but to those people we say how you work is wrong and how other project management tools do this is wrong.


Let me explain… Originally in Tribe, you could create a task and drop it in the Open column. This would allow you to create unassigned tasks. We thought it was great (just like you’re thinking), so we gave it to beta-users. You know what happened? Users created tasks they thought would be great to have done, assign it to no one in the open lane, and that task would never get done. Seriously, we have proof.

We investigated this when we saw every task in the Open lane was dormant. We thought it was our own data lying to us, or a glitch in reporting. The data showed that over the course of 2 weeks more than 700 tasks were placed in the open lane and not one of them was “grabbed and completed” by someone in the group. Everyone used the open column to hide bad tasks in the app to avoid work.


But how can this be?? There is this convenient column where people could dump work for others to do; it’s better than just assigning a task!

The problem was just that; the open column was the island of misfit toys for tasks. Don’t want to do a task yourself? Assign it to the open lane and pray someone decides to assign it to themselves and get it done. In theory it works, in reality it doesn’t.

So, we saw this and did something about it. We iterated on our app.

Now in Tribe every task has an assignee. Every task is either self-assigned or assigned to somebody else. You can’t create a task assigned to no one because no one will do it, and important work gets ignored. That’s why you can’t create an unassigned task in Tribe. That’s why we got rid of the Open column. That’s why we tell you that you actually don’t want an Open column because trust us, it just doesn’t work.


We listened to the data over our own opinions. We’re in the business of helping you get more done, and if we can help make things even just a little better we will try to. That’s why in Tribe every task has an assignee, so that tasks are more accountable. We’re always looking for opportunities to make what we have more efficient. If you have different thoughts on this, leave us a comment below and tell us why you think unassigned tasks are better. We’d love to hear what you think!

Maybe this post fired you up and you’re ready to create loads of tasks to capitalize on this motivation? Here is a link to teach you how to create tasks!

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