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 38 (The Enterprise Soft Spot)

After the intense experience from the various highlights blog posts I created last week on the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin, here we are back at it again and blogging on the weekly progress report from my new (Now somewhat old, probably) reality of giving up e-mail at work. Already on week 38 and with another interesting set of results from that incoming e-mail count, which this time around keeps fluctuating quite a bit and without reaching that plateau that I am still wanting to achieve at some point: 20 or less work related e-mails a week. But not to worry, I know that sooner or later I will get there eventually. Just a matter of time ๐Ÿ™‚

For now, and without much further ado, here is the weekly progress report from week 38, so that you folks can have a look into it as well:

As you would be able to see, and like I have already mentioned, the incoming e-mails count keeps fluctuating and if a couple of weeks back I received 24 e-mails, last week that count went up to 37, which is not too bad, but then again it could have been much better. The main thing which will keep me watching over this one is that there wasn’t a specific reason why I got such a relatively high number, so we will have to wait and see this week what we will end up with.

For now though, I can confirm that this week is going to be just too funny, and ironic, because of what has happened in the last couple of days, but you will have to wait till next progress report hehe and you will see what I mean ๐Ÿ™‚

To end up this blog post though I just wanted to share with you folks another interesting link that I have bumped into in the last couple of weeks and which I think is very representative on the stuff I am doing by moving away from corporate e-mail.

I initially got alerted about it by my good friend, and fellow IBM colleague, Adrian Spender, who tweeted about a recent article that Robert Scoble put together under the title of "The Enterprise Soft Spot, er, the Enterprise Email Crisis". In this particular blog post Scoble comments further on what the real issues are with e-mail at work, in fact, he calls it "The Enterprise EMail Crisis" and I thought I would just spend a couple of paragraphs on some of the quotes I found worth while noting, and which I am sure you would be able to relate to. Here we go with them:

"At one point during the presentation someone asked me what Iโ€™d do if I were trying to apply Web 2.0 techniques inside an Enterprise. I answered โ€œevery day Iโ€™d try to come up with some way to avoid using email.โ€ I almost said it half in jest but was a little surprised when a sizeable cheer came from the audience"

Yes, I can see how he got that kind of reaction! Pretty similar to the one I have been going through for the last nine and a half months, where I have been talking to hundreds, if not several thousand, folks on what’s like not having to worry about e-mail at work anymore and still be able to keep my job and get the job done at the same time! So much so that in these last few months I have been travelling so much to various different events and customer meetings than in the 12 years I have been with the company!!

Yes, that is what I would also call the Enterprise soft spot! Showing everyone that with these new emerging (If I may say so still) technologies we now have got plenty of choices to make use of them extensively, both internally and externally, and without having to worry about pushing everything coming through e-mail. If I have found a way of doing that, everyone can certainly do it themselves, don’t you think?

The important thing, which is also something that I mentioned while at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin, is that if you would want to stop using e-mail at work and move the conversations elsewhere, it is something that you should start doing! Don’t wait for your peers to get on board! It is a change in your habits that needs to take place, and not everyone else’s. It starts with you! A change where you start relying more and more on those social software tools to get the job done, just like I do! A chance to open up to new ways of collaborating and sharing your knowledge, perhaps in much more effective ways, but, unless you try, you will never know whether you would be succeeding or not.

I did that and it has worked wonders with me! Why not with you? What’s stopping you from moving away, gradually, from e-mail? Have you discussed it with the teams & communities and the various projects you are involved with? Have you mentioned to them how you would want to collaborate and share your knowledge in the most effective and efficient way for you? Have you tried going by at work one week without heavily relying on e-mail? If you haven’t raised these questions yet, you may want to get started now. Remember, we are witnessing and going through the Enterprise Soft Spot, so the sooner we are over with it, the sooner we would be moving into a new level of 2.0 interactions where you decide the kind of involvement and participation you would want to go for, as well how soon you would want to move away from corporate e-mail.

"1. When I left my job at NEC after working there for a year I left with 1.5 gigs of email. Neither I nor the company had access to that even though there was TONS of valuable data in there for my replacement."

Here, here! How many of us have been going through that situation just recently? I have a tendency to archive whatever e-mail I bump into over the course of the years and that means that I have got several GBs of data hidden away in my local mail archives in my Mac and my Inbox with the end-result that only me, for as long as I am there, can enjoy such vast amount of information and resources. As soon as that situation changes, everything will change. Not just for me, but for the corporation itself, because there is a great chance they will lose that information. Just like I would…

That is exactly one of the many reasons why I decided as well to stick my head out and Think Outside the Inbox (a.k.a. ‘TotI’), thus, as much as I possibly can I now try to share essential bits and pieces of information out there on the various social software tools where I hang out, so that all of those resources and knowledge would be available to everyone else in the company with just a simple search query and off it goes. Readily available to everyone! Now, do you think there is anything bigger than that at the corporate level? All of your information / knowledge made available to everyone, perhaps both inside and outside of the corporate firewall? Probably not! That, to me, is what "Knowledge Shared Is Power" is all about. No doubt!

"2. The โ€œn*nโ€ problem […]"

While I was eventually reading through that second item Scoble mentions, I just couldn’t help thinking about this particular graphic (By Chris Rasmussen and courtesy from the Wikinomics blog) which I have used already several dozens of times (With due credit, of course!) and which I think is a very visual description of what Robert mentions in his blog post. Just another reason why e-mail is probably not the most efficient and effective collaborative tool, specially when you are about to embark on a one to many, or many to many exchange of information or feedback input. Here is the graphic, just in case you may not have seen it yet:

In short, and like I have mentioned throughout this entry, I have done it myself for the last nine and a half months and rather successfully, but it is up to you to decide where you would want to hang out within the corporate world: in Heaven or … in Hell …

(Yes, I chose Heaven, and you?)

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