E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Life Goes on, I Guess – Leaving IBM …

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas DunesThere are times where you feel you would want to share with the whole world the really good news on something special you have just experienced; there are times where you are just so excited that you are not sure whether you would want to blog about it or not, but the increasing urge to share the news with everyone else is just that big you can’t hold it much longer anymore; there are times where that life changing experience you always wanted to go through at some point in time kicks in and you want to share glimpses of it with those folks who, through one way or another, have been exposed to it to a certain extent already, but now you would want to, finally, share the whole thing with them; there are times where there is a place to make an announcement to everyone out there, who may be listening, about some big big piece of news that you know will have a significant impact in yourself, and, hopefully in others, too, for some time to come!

Well, today is the day. Today is the day where I am officially announcing that as of the 31st of December 2008 I shall be leaving IBM, after having worked there for nearly 12 years! Yes, indeed, 12 years!! But I guess, like the title of this blog post states, life goes on and that certainly means it is time for me to move on!

Errr, WHAT?!?!?! … Shocking news, eh? I bet most folks out there who know me personally would probably say that they would have never seen that coming along, specially after having landed in my dream job a little bit over a year ago doing what I like the most… But like I said earlier on, I guess there is always a time to move on and perhaps mine may have just arrived as we speak.

Errr, WHAT?!?!?!? (Again). Are you serious? You really mean you are leaving IBM? Well, yes and no! Ok, now I am confused! Well, don’t be. Like I said, yes and no!

Yes, it is true! I will be leaving IBM as of the 31st of December, but that would be leaving IBM Netherlands, the company I have been working for for nearly 12 years, the last nine of them as a full time employee, having done lots of work around the world of Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Community Building and Social Computing! So that would be the yes! As far as the no! is concerned, as of the 1st of January 2009, I shall be joining IBM Spain as a full time employee working for the IBM Software group.

WOW! That’s big news! Ok, so what does that mean, then? You are not leaving IBM, right? Well, no, I am not. I am just moving countries, which in reality is something that I started progressing towards to for a couple of years already and it is just now the time when it has finally become a reality. From January 2009 I shall be an IBM Spanish employee! Yay!!!

Ok, ok, I am sure that by now most of you folks would be wondering what would be the difference, right? I mean, what will change is probably what you would be most interested in by now after reading all of this. I am sure. Well, to start with nothing much will change. At least, for most of you folks out there (Specially those not working for IBM) things will be almost the same. Like I said, I will now be part of the IBM Software group, but I will still be doing the same job I have been doing in the last year: helping accelerate the adoption rate of Social Software within IBM for the client facing teams, and, as a result of that, to the entire of IBM!

That basically means I will continue doing what I have been doing all along, i.e. sharing that passion on how social computing is changing the corporate world and the enterprise as we all know it. But, instead of having the flag from IBM Netherlands behind me, from next year onwards it will be IBM Spain’s. I will be falling into the Spanish organisation of the company, with a manager based in Madrid (That will be my default office location as well!) although I will still be working remotely with the Social Software Programs & Enablement team, a.k.a. BlueIQ.

Thus as you would be able to see, very little changes coming through externally, yet, from an IBM internal perspective, it would be a huge change for me (And for the better, too!), and those who may have been going through something similar could surely confirm those big changes. Starting with one’s own physical and virtual presence behind the corporate firewall, where almost everything changes. But I guess we will have to go through that one step at a time!

The important piece of news for those of you out there interested, is the fact that in a couple of weeks I will no longer be working for IBM Netherlands, but instead I will be moving into IBM Spain. A new path in my professional career has just started and all along I surely am planning on sharing plenty more details on what that transition has been. There will be bits and pieces I will be able to blog externally and some others where I will keep things behind the firewall.

Does that mean you are now finally going to give up on giving up on e-mail? Does that mean you will go back to e-mail once again as your primary method of communication and collaboration? Not likely! Quite the opposite! Going stronger than ever before, more than anything else to try to prove the point of how, even if you are new to a company, you would still be able to survive without making use of e-mail. At least, I am going to give it my very best try and see how things would go from there. After all, I will be moving forward by then into the 11th month in a row without using corporate e-mail and should be an interesting continuation of the experiment.

Things will change, I am sure. In fact, I am already planning on the next phase of what I have been doing all along, putting together a new presentation, a new pitch, an enhanced weekly progress report, getting down to an even lower number of e-mails per week and so forth. And I am just really excited to see how it would all turn around in the end. But we will have to wait and see for another couple of weeks, before things will kick in with the new job.

For now, it is time for me to continue wrapping up 12 wonderful years where tons and tons of life changing experiences have been happening and which I may venture into sharing a couple of them as highlights as I am moving closer to the final transfer date. This week would be my last working week before I head over for some more holidays till beginning of 2009, And although it is promising to be quite a hectic one, not to worry, this would not be the last time that I get to post a blog entry over here as an IBM Dutch employee… Oh, more than anything else, because there is one other massive surprise I would be sharing shortly. And that one would surely affect all of those folks reading http://www.elsua.net. Thus stay tuned for more to come …

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Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 41 to 43 (The Yo-Yo Effect)

Gran Canaria - Barranco de MaspalomasAnd we are back again! Well, better said, I am back again! Back at my regular blogging activities, after having gone through my last business trip of the year, i.e. to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to participate on the superb Dutch Innovation Platform event, for which I am already working through putting together a couple of blog posts with some of the highlights I went through and experienced, along with other events I have been to this year and which I am hoping to be able to share them accordingly shortly. They are still there, so not to worry, I haven’t forgotten. Things have just been busy and with all of the travelling and year end activities you can imagine where my mind has been lately …

But today I thought I would go ahead and resume those blogging activities by tapping into the weekly progress report from my giving up on e-mail, which, in case you are wondering, it is still going rather strong and with no outlook to go back any time soon! Thus, even though I may not have blogged about it just recently, it doesn’t mean I have giving up altogether on the whole thing. Quite the contrary.

Main reason why I haven’t blogged on the topic for a while is because I have been watching a phenomenon happening right as we speak and for which I just cannot find a good explanation for at this point in time and it looks like it is expanding into this current week we are on. Yes, it is about something that I have started to call it the yo-yo effect and which surely is helping bring plenty of puzzlement for myself and a few other folks who have been wondering about the same thing.

Nevertheless, instead of me detailing some more what’s been happening over the last three weeks, i.e. week 41, 42 & 43 I thought I would go ahead and share with your those progress reports over here in the usual way, but with these three grouped together:

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 41

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 42

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 43

As you would be able to see, there has been a yo-yo effect which I am yet to explain where it comes from, because there hasn’t been anything special taking place for it to be there. So I am not sure how that came up. Either way, you would be able to see how for week 41 the total number of incoming e-mails was 43; for week 42 it was 26 and, finally, for week 43 the total number was 37. Rather interesting to try to figure out a pattern for that to happen, but so far it is failing in me to figure it out. And even worse when this week the yo-yo effect continues and this time around on the low side of things! Oh, well, I will trying to figure out and see how it goes. The interesting thing is that the average incoming count of e-mails hasn’t gone up tremendously high as I suspected it may have happened due to the time of the year. Alas, it looks like things have been rather different than what I thought! Oh well, we shall see if I can figure it out.

For now though I thought as well I would wrap up this blog post sharing with you folks a couple of very interesting entries I have bumped into from my good friend Dennis Howlett (Who is probably starting to enjoy LeWeb in Paris this week! *wave*), who, a little while ago, has finally decided to take some action in handling some of the interactions that arrive through his e-mail address and move them elsewhere outside his Inbox. Does it ring a bell?

Check out “Email is driving me crazy” and from there onwards head over to “Why I’ve blown the PR gaff“, to get a little bit of background and some further insights on some of the stuff that I am sure most of you folks would feel identified with. In this particular case, the fascinating stuff is not that Dennis has put together two really nice blog posts, but something that I consider much more important and relevant for what I have been doing all along: recognising there is a problem with e-mail and finally decide to do something about it!

I did that over 10 months ago and I don’t regret it a single time! It has been quite an experience! Acknowledging there was a problem with my Inbox in how it was controlling my own productivity for me versus myself dictating what it would be like was just the first step towards what I have achieved from there onwards. And I am really glad to see how Dennis has started that path as well. So from here onwards I will be following up on his progress and see how he is doing on that innovative approach to move away from his e-mail by making use of various other tools, like Twitter. Best of luck, Dennis! I am there with you, my friend! Hang in long enough and then there would be no way back!

However, the interesting thing about Dennis’ blog posts was eventually the comments from the first entry where John Reed shared an excellent piece with some very sound advice on how he himself has also been reducing his incoming e-mail count and I surely was inspired by reading his commentary, because he was just sending out a very loud and clear message that everyone can tame their e-mail beast and make out of it what they had envisioned in the first place. Here are a couple of interesting quotes from John that I thought were worth while mentioning over here as well:

One thing is that any emails I get on general SAP career questions, I tend to respond more briefly and point them to relevant links on my site. Or, I will create a longer email if it is a good new question, turn that into an article, and point folks there the next time around. So, creating content that serves as “FAQ” is always good to reduce general inquiries.

Or

Another thing that has helped me is to realize that as important as it is to respond to client questions, I’m better off limiting my email sessions to a couple a day. So, after a certain point in my day I shut off my email. Twitter has helped me here as I let clients know they can find me all the time on Twitter if they need anything. The reason limiting the amount of email sessions is important is because many email correspondences are just longer conversations and the more email you send, the more you accelerate those conversations. Limiting the frequency of my own email sessions is helpful and folks know that while I will respond to email almost every day, they shouldn’t think of it as an instant ping”

To, finally, wrap up the commentary with these equally wise words:

I tend to keep my email responses to the short side, to create more efficiency on an email-by-email basis […]

Thus as you would be able to see, plenty of common sense and a very good strategy put in place on how John keeps his e-mail count to a reasonable amount, or, at least, with a lot less noise than ever before. Which reminds me of something I keep getting confronted with over and over again. Reducing your e-mail count of incoming e-mails is not something that any system is going to help you out with. It is all about you; it is all about your willingness to challenge your Inbox, to fix what may be broken, to try to amend a situation that is becoming more difficult to sustain day in day out; to find a way to regain back your own productivity versus that one of others. In short, to challenge and figure out a way to help improve the way you interact with your connections, because there is always a chance that there would be something out there way better than e-mail!

Both John and Dennis, not just me alone anymore, are proving it is possible to do it. Yes, it may take time; yes, it may take some initial effort; yes, it may take more energy than you can anticipate, but hang in there. Hang in there tight for the initial storm to take place, because, before you know it, the calm will settle right in, and from there onwards there is no way back! You would no longer be able to say that you are being overwhelmed by your incoming e-mail. Key question though for you folks out there … Are you willing to take back control? … It is your choice!

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