Quick Notion project: Dynamic org chart of your client personnel


Last month, I wrote a couple of articles about Notion, a powerful personal productivity database. I explained how I use it every day and included some tips and tricks.

Read more:

Since then, I’ve gotten quite a few questions from readers. Among the most common questions are “how do I create a new project?” and “what else can I do with Notion?”

In today’s article, I’m going to answer both of those questions by showing how to create a Notion project that’s part of my everyday management kit.

Problem statement

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I work with a lot of different companies and teams within those companies. While I have a strong email trail for all my contacts, it’s often tough to figure out who’s who and where they fit in the overall organization.

Managers have long had the org chart tool for understanding an organization’s personnel. We are going to recreate the org chart functionality in Notion.

There will be one difference. Most org charts are tree-like structures, with the leadership at the top and subordinates below. Notion doesn’t have this capability (although it should). But what Notion does have is a Toggle List data type. We’re going to use that to build our tree.

Creating a new Notion page

Let’s start by creating a new Notion page. This is my Demo Dashboard, a page I’ve set up in Notion that will allow me to create demo pages for articles like this.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

To create a new org chart page, simply hit the / key and select Page.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

You’ll immediately be dropped on a new page. The key thing here is to give it a name. For our purposes, let’s name it Org Chart (NCC-1701). Notion allows you to put header images on your pages. To do so, move your cursor above the title and click Add Cover.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

A random cover image will be added. Move your cursor over the image and select Change cover.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

When you do, you’ll be presented with an image browser. Here, you can choose, upload, add a link, or search Unsplash. I went into Unsplash and searched for Star Trek because for our demo sample; I’m building an org chart of the USS Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike. Now, my org chart has a proper banner.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

I’m now ready to choose my page type. I like to start with a blank page. So I just hit the little blank page icon.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

Building up the org chart

We’ll be using the Toggle List feature, so hit slash and type ‘T’ or scroll to Toggle List.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

Now we just add our team members. Hitting Return gets a peer-level toggle. Hitting Tab moves the toggle in. And Shift-Tab pulls the toggle back out. You can also drag and drop lines to move entries around.

As you can see, the toggles allow us to nest groups and show hierarchy, which is how Sam Kirk is represented as Spock’s subordinate.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

I’m sure you’ve already figured this out, but this is the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 in the new series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Paramount+. You’re missing a treat if you haven’t checked out this series. SNW gets everything right that all the other recent Star Trek series got wrong. It’s pretty close to a home run.

Also: The beginner’s guide to the Star Trek: What to watch first

Expanding the org chart concept

You can expand the org chart concept to manage multiple clients or companies. In this example, you can see how a variety of organizations can be managed on one page.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

Just close the toggle to hide the underlying information. Note that you can also add supporting notes, like how I’ve shown how the command of the USS Discovery has been a revolving door of management trouble.

Recommendation for the Notion folks

As far back as 1986, Living Videotext’s product MORE was able to convert an outline into an org chart graphic or a slide show graphic. That’s because the outline data structure easily represents both graphic presentation models.

I recommend that Notion add an option to represent a toggle list as both of those graphic types. It would substantially increase the potential of the product.

So what about you? Have you built any interesting projects using Notion? Do you plan to track the organization structure of clients or organizations you work with? Did you use MORE back in the day? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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