I’ve been immensely frustrated with e-mail in enterprises over the years, for a variety of reasons:
- Dangling Conversations, where an e-mail sent to a specific mail list then creates a number of partially-overlapping conversations as people subtract and add people to the list for random, often selfish reasons. Decision-making gets difficult as a result because the conversations are very dispersed
- CC Riders, people who cover their fundaments by copying in the world and her husband, creating conversations that aren’t necessary in the first place, and overloading everyone in the process
- Blind Trusters, who somehow convince themselves that having a conversation with one person while letting someone else in surreptitiously via bc is a good way of building trust. These things have a habit of biting back, which is a good thing.
- Giant Haystacks, who habitually file everything, every version of everything, even e-mails they neither sent nor received. If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t, file it.
- Needlepointers, who habitually look for e-mails in said haystacks, and manage to convince themselves that spending hours doing this is considered productive activity, while things like blogs aren’t…
- Iceberg Lettuces, who regularly forward “private” conversations with adverse comments to the person the adverse comments were about, without realising what lay below the visible part of the iceberg. Enjoyable to watch but intrinsically unproductive; maybe more productive than the snide comments in the first place, but it’s a close call.
- Oops-I-Did-It-Againers, who provide both laughs as well as immense frustration by unthinkingly Replying All in the most painful circumstances.
Of course we can set filters to solve some of this. Of course we can set policy to solve some of this. Of course we can educate to solve some of this.
Of course we are all addicted to all this.
And for some unknown reason, we are all programmed to “fix” mail rather than use tools that are more suited to the things we want to do. I still remember the reactions Stowe received when he first prophesied the death of e-mail. He might as well have declared that Pluto wasn’t a planet; this was some years ago :-)
- 9 people read the email
- 8 people file the email (in their private folders, thereby duplicating effort)
- 7 people are interrupted in their work or thoughts when the email arrives
- 6 people will never be able to find the email again
- 5 people didnâ€™t actually need to know about the change
- 4 people joining the project in the next phase wouldn’t have received the email
- 3 people will be able to find the email again, should they need to
- 2 people will check back to the email at a later date when they need the information
- 1 of them will understand the email in context, be able to find it at a later date and action it
Great stuff, Lars. And thanks to Kiyo for the heads-up.