E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 28 (Putting e-mail in its place)

As I am about to wrap up quite an intensive and tough week at work, which is partially why I haven’t been very social in the last couple of days in most of the social software tools I usually hang out in, and almost ready to hit the weekend!, I thought I would let you folks with, yet again, another progress report on my new mantra of giving up e-mail at work as well as one of the best articles on re-purposing e-mail, both as a collaboration and knowledge sharing tool, that I have seen so far, ever since I got started with this new reality of mine seven months ago!

Yes, that’s right, I am already on the seventh month in a row, past week 28th!, without using e-mail as my main and primary method for sharing information, knowledge and collaborating with other knowledge workers. Yet, it is starting to feel like forever, like I have been doing this all along and that, finally, I am starting to see some really good results to the already interesting and exciting ones that have come through all along. But let’s just not talk about the week after week 28th, i.e. this week, because there is a little surprise coming up and it surely deserves its own space.

For now, let’s just focus on what happened last week and check out the report of incoming e-mails and see where we were back then. Here it is:

As you may have been able to see, last week was quite an interesting one from the perspective where the total number of e-mails increased quite substantially, specially during mid-week, which interestingly enough seems to be the couple of days where I keep getting the most e-mails. This time around I think there were a couple of reasons why such increase of e-mails took place. Mostly a couple of announcements on new changes taking place within the team I am part of. Folks obviously wanted to know more about those various changes and they wanted to know privately. So we kept the conversations private.

Remember, it is the only single scenario of e-mails that I still process through e-mail: a 1:1 conversation of a sensitive or confidential nature or that the other party would want to keep things private, like it has happened in this case. In that case I still process the e-mails through e-mail, which is why you are seeing that high increase during those couple of days. However, today, as I am about to wrap up week 29, I can certainly confirm that it is not a growing trend. But there is a little bit of a surprise, which I will be commenting on in an upcoming blog post.

For now, though, I would like to spend a couple of minutes pointing you to one of the most comprehensive, interesting, relevant, thought-provoking, enlightening and incredibly well written articles I have read in a long while on the topic of re-purposing e-mail successfully within the corporate firewall, to help increase your own productivity and that of the other fellow knowledge workers. When I read about it, I cannot stress enough over here, how much I felt identified with it. In its entirety! An amazing read that I would keep on referencing over and over and over again, because it surely deserves it. No doubt it! And if not judge for yourselves…

Check out the blog post that David Tebutt, (@tebbo in Twitter) put together a few days back under "Putting email in its place", which got also picked up by IT-Director.com. What an amazing read, to say the least!! David and I know each other for a while now. We have met in person and have been having lengthy, and really interesting, conversations on all what’s happening within the Social Computing & Enterprise 2.0 and beyond spaces, amongst other topics, and, ever since I started with this, he has been following what I have been doing with this new reality of moving away from corporate e-mail.

Well, in that particular article he has been able to articulate exactly how I feel about the whole subject of re-purposing e-mail and he has done it in such accurate and straight to the point terms that after reading the article over there I couldn’t think of anything else to add. Just perfect! Amazingly accurate! I am not going to reproduce the entire article over here. I am going to let you go and read it over at David’s blog. However, I am going to take the liberty of quoting a couple of excerpts, so that you have got the opportunity to glimpse what you would be able to find over there …

Thus without much further ado, here are a couple of quotes taken out of David’s article and which I am sure are going to make you smile a bit, as I am certain it would resonate quite a bit, with all of the stuff I have been writing about over here all along. So here it goes:

"[…] We have become so used to the convenience of creating email—whack in a few cc’s and a bcc just in case—we forget that it has a dark side. Unless you have very sophisticated filters, emails crave attention. They arrive, loaded with content which has to be scanned, at least.

Compare that with an instant message, a Twitter tweet or an RSS feed. They are all means of communicating. They’re fairly unobtrusive, but they can lead to great value. They can be scanned quickly and only those that require attention be acted on. In a group setting, a chat group—such as those that can be set up in Skype—is ideal. First you can see if there’s anyone around, then you might ask, "Hey, anyone know who’s organising the Office 2.0 conference?" Someone would answer and all the others know they don’t have to bother. Compare that with an email asking the same question. If there are nine in the group, that’s potentially eight responses—and each of those would probably be cc’ed to the other seven. […]"

Or this other paragraph, which is my absolute favourite:

"Of course, group collaboration isn’t for everyone. It requires an openness, a transparency and a potential exposure that makes some exceedingly nervous. But group working, especially across disciplines and between insiders and outsiders (customer, suppliers) is becoming a vital part of business these days. The firewall isn’t going to disappear, but it’s certainly shimmering at the edges as insiders and outsiders exploit social media for mutual benefit" (Emphasis mine)

Many many thanks, David, for putting together, in such lovely and spot on words, all what I have been trying to do over the last few months and still going strong: challenge your e-mail system today!

Regardless the company / business you work for…

(There is no way back!)

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