Discussions about the email habit

There is a lot of talking and writing to stop email communication in a company. Atos announced in 2011 to dismiss emails within 2 years. It looks like that they are on a good way to achieve their plan. But there are also a lot of blog post that are not so radical as Atos‘ plan.

I do not want to judge it and say it is good or bad, my perception of this topic is that the discussions are about a cultural change and how to combine all the available tools and use them for their best purpose, it is a moderate change. It is a topic about the people, change management and about technology and its usage.

When e-mail was invented (1971) and spread into the world it was the time for it. But time has not stopped and now there is a migration to another form of working together and using different tools different to e-mails. The challenge is to combine the new and the old. The push-technology e-mail with the pull-technology social media. To find the connections and gates between. It is a challenge but I am confident we will gradually achieve it.

Recently I have found some very interesting articles from Oscar Berg. Oscar wrote in his blog “The Content Economy” and also in cmswire. His first article I want to mention is “Email is the biggest productivity drain for knowledge workers”.

In his article he shows the difference between a push system and pull system or as he calls it “occupational spam culture” and “opt-in culture”. What are the problems when dealing with e-mails. Here is a short list:

  • Information are hidden in the participants’ inboxes
  • Information cannot be accessed from outside communicators
  • Information are duplicates from themselves, consuming disk space
  • Information need coordinating activities from all the people who are involved in the communication, really time-consuming

The last point is the biggest burden for pure e-mail communication. The receiver is responsible for the structure to find the information at a later point in time. And when the receiver is not interested in the kind of conversation in his inbox there is no way to opt-out the conversation. This situation Oscar calls “occupational spam culture”.

The solution out of the “spam” is an opt-in culture. People decide themselves where they want to participate, where they want to contribute content and as a sender how to organize the information. The advantages are highly visibly, the receiver does not need to care about the structure, “a huge amount of waste can be eliminated and people can use the time and energy for value-adding activities”.

One example of this mode of operation is a team blog. Simple, isn’t it? All team members share their input in that blog, team members add their comments to the articles, all members (at least) can read it and can participate when they want.

There is also a solution for people who cannot get away from their e-mail habit. They can stay with it! What? Yes, they can stay with it, get e-mail notifications out of the blog, can see the new information from all. But where is the catch? Well, the catch is that someone has to copy the information out from the e-mails into the blog to contribute this content to everyone. Maybe that is also a way to get the more skeptical people more confident in the new medias. To see that nothing harm them when they change their working style.

Oscar has written another 3 articles I will mention here soon, stay tuned.

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