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You're Sending Too Much Email
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vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
11/6/2014 | 6:03:56 PM
Re: Here are my choices
@moarsauce123 I agree with you that email is the best game in town even though people think it's arcahaic.  It's non-intrusive, permanent (potentially) and can be easily transferred to other things like calendar entries, tasks, meetings, etc.  Win-win-win.  
Legioona
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Legioona,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/6/2014 | 7:57:22 AM
Outlook is the one to blame
The one thing that the enterprise collaboration tools on the market have failed to achieve is the total control of your working day - your messages, calendar and tasks all accessible in a second below different tabs.

This is what Outlook does, it literally tells where you need to be and when, which messages you need to reply next, and acts as a to-do-list as well an information repository.

All of this would be perfect, unless for the underlying flaw: it runs on the email protocol, which was defined in 1982 as a replacement for physical mail. The protocol was never intended for collaborative work, so nothing is stored centrally nor accessible by others. Also, the protocol is push instead of pull, which ensures you cannot influence what you get on your table (the curse of the cc emails).

Facebook killed non-business related email with a more effective communication protocol (think of organizing events prior to FB), we aim to do the same for business related emails with Collaboration Objects.
carmitchel
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carmitchel,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/5/2014 | 9:15:48 PM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email

Spot on. Of the thousand of companies that I've had the chance to connect with about workflow and email pain, one thing is certain, if the stakeholders are not willing to adopt and adapt to improve team communications, then teams have failed even before they've begun trying a new solution. I've been in the team collaboration space now for the last 6 years and am currently the product evangelist for Glip.com, so I've had my share of conversations with teams that are left in the dust with no plan from leadership on how to roll out communication software.

It doesn't help that most stakeholders have budgets they need to fight for and implementing new communications software every year is just another line item that was never really intended to improve workflow. We sneak in the back door with Glip since all the productivity tools teams need to communicate and get things done are packaged in an instant messenger. That way we don't have to worry about teams being trained and onboarded. There's hope with options like HipChat, Slack & Glip around - team email and the pain that comes with is on the outs.

moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
11/5/2014 | 7:30:30 AM
Here are my choices
At work I have these choices for communication

- in person

- instant messaging

- instant video conference

- planned video/web conferencing

- phone

- email

- internal wiki

All options other than email and wiki require the other persons to be present. Some of the folks I need to involve in discussions do not come in before 9, some leave by 4, and many take extended or shifting lunch breaks, so between 11:30 and 1:30 any discussions are off the table. On any given day one of the coworkers that should be in a discussion is out or has a special assignment. Also, several folks are working remotely all the time in the armpits of nowhere having spotty connectivity that at times is not fast enough to support video conferencing.

So if we manage to find an hour where people are available we typically spend at least 10 minutes to figure out how to get the web based conferencing system to work (so much for "meetings made easy"). By that time a few discussions already started leaving the remotes at a disadvantage...assuming they will ever come online as there is also often problems with the VoIP phone system in the office that connects through leased lines to a central switchboard at the other end of the country.

Email always works and it is easy to use. You can submit a question to a few people and they respond within the day. Wiki is another option, but our internal wiki is not accessible to everyone in the company and buried behind a login page which makes using it a pain in the rear because often enough the login does not work properly.

People don't use these supposedly awesome collaboration 3.0 tools because they suck. Why do I always have to dial 20 digits and constantly turn on or off things for each meeting? What I want is to configure a meeting session once and then have a shortcut on the desktop that sets up the web session as well as dials the phone automatically and ask only one question: record session?

Another reason why folks keep using email is that except for IM it requires people to talk. We do not have nice offices with doors, just a bunch of cubes. Talking to someone is a major disruption to anyone around who is not involved in the discussion. Yes, we do have conference rooms, but they are often booked or folks just use them at will no matter if someone reserved the room or not.

Email is awesome. It is simple, it is fast, it is text based, it is easy to forward and archive, it is easy to search, it is easy to filter, and it is easy on the network bandwidth (unlike video streams). So until we get a tool that indeed makes meetings easy and we get offices where we can talk to someone at will without disturbing others nothing will change.

 
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 4:19:46 PM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email
@jastroff You're right, getting off email is a top down effort -- I probably didn't emphasize that enough in the column. People hate change, so the boss needs to mandate using socbiz tools. Draw a line in the sand. I applaud the tactic by OpenTable of warning salespeople against sending reports via email and to use Chatter instead.

Your story about your manager printing out emails makes me cringe!
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 4:17:45 PM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email
Email is pretty much perfect in theory. It just lacks a good standard gating mechanism. I'd be really happy with my inbox if everyone who wanted to contact me had to be whitelisted or pass some anti-spam challenge.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2014 | 1:30:31 PM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email
You would think with the new Gmail  interface, which is a UI nightmare, that people would be running from email. But there's always Outlook. :-)

You're right. The boss needs to get off of email, at least for certain things. It's a top down change. As you point out, sending sales reports via email is not as effective as sharing them in the right format through collaboration tools.  Yet, at times collaboration tools are harder to use, so we are back to square one.

I've introduced a number of collaboration tools, only to find the boss doesn't want to use it, so the value of putting information there was very low.  That's a key – where the information resides gives the channel or application the value. We can all agree there is lots of information of different types, and so we select our communication channel to accommodate.

On the lighter side, I once had a manager who had their admin print out all their email messages, then they would write comments/actions on them, and put them in the staff member's inbox. 
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 1:05:58 PM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email
Oh the irony. In an effort to wean off email we create more emails about the activities of non-email communication tools! But I do think when a social tool like Yammer works well it becomes part of peoples' work day enough that email alerts are superfluous.

However email is still the place we check most often so sending alerts there for any kind of activity makes sense. I guess it's up to the user to figure out which email alerts are redundant and decrease their frequency or shut em off.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 11:45:06 AM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email
Then there are the collaboration systems that increase your email input. I can think of three collaboration or project management systems I use, meant to replace email for work requests or announcements, that generate automated alerts of status changes or new posts in my email system. Part of the answer is managing those alerts -- I've dialed one back through settings so it's much better. But some of those email alerts are essential, so I don't have to monitor more than one channel. So I'm not ready to sever those from my email, which remains my central communication console.    
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2014 | 11:33:47 AM
Re: If the boss moves off email, the team moves off email
Amen Dave. The OpenTable example is a good argument for reducing email among work teams. I agree that a social collaboration stream at work is yet another comunication channel to manage, and we all have enough to manage. But it's worth it if it curbs the email avalanche, with an upside of improved teamwork/productivity. But like most things it takes a boss to say, "No more emailing of reports. We're using this social tool now. Here's the plan."
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