Well, your intrepid adventurers have 3 days of Working Outside the Inbox under our belts and I thought this a would be a good time to discuss in a little more depth about how we are doing this.
Lets start with Step 1: Stop replying to email. This step would really be more accurately described as Mindful Processing of Email but that doesn't sound nearly as provocative and attention-grabbing, and wouldn't make nearly so many people's heads explode, which wouldn't be nearly as much fun.
So listen: this is what we are really doing.
Think of this as stopping the reflexive knee-jerk reaction of working in your inbox, simply reading and replying. We've all become very well trained by our inboxes: receive an email, send an email. Read your incoming email and then...
Stop. Think. Ask yourself a few questions along these lines:
Change begins with us (and you!)
Here are some wild and crazy ideas on how you can work effectively and openly and without being chained to your inbox:
Use the content repository or content management system of your choice as long as it's NOT YOUR MACHINE. Don't become the bottleneck, or the single point of failure. Put your stuff where people can find it and get it. When people email and ask you for that information, give them a link to the information where you've posted it.
Use wiki pages for knowledge capture and on-demand access. One example, instead of keeping your project status or metrics in a spreadsheet on your machine, think open and transparent and provide that data on a wiki page. if your manager expects a weekly status report, put it there.
discussion forums for collaboration, idea sharing and brai
Use the community blog for news, announcements, and community-wide communications. Why blog? To take advantage of all the technology that allows us to share knowledge more widely ... tags, RSS feeds, aggregators, search.... the list goes on. Rather than sending an 800mg email that immediately plunges 20% of your unsuspecting audience into "mail jail", try blogging your news. Oh, the 80% who aren't in mail jail? I posit that 40% will not read it anyway, either deliberately or by accident when it scrolls "below the fold" amidst a barrage of other people sending news, asking questions, and, worst of all, sharing files.
Besides, I bet a couple of weeks from now, someone's going to ask you for the information again anyway.
Speaking of sharing files.... There are better ways. Instead of mailing a slide deck to 10 people for review and comments, use Connections and if you MUST send an email, send a link to where you have posted the file (or the wiki page from which you are working) so that it can benefit the greatest number of people, who can then bookmark it / subscribe to it / grab the RSS feed, or otherwise self-serve when they need the information. Which means the doc owner doesn't need to send the updated file out to a cast of thousands either.
Oh, it all just makes so much SENSE.
So no, we're not giving up email entirely, and there will be times that we will (gasp!) send an email. We're just going to be mindful in our work and aim to get the maximum value from each interaction.
So, stop and think.
Just because a conversation starts in email doesn't mean it belongs there.
Just a quick note to let you know that I have accepted a new role in IBM, still focused on collaboration, communities, and knowledge-sharing, but outside of Rational Client Support.
It's been a great ride, and I'm looking forward to new opportunities and challenges. Notes from Rational Support is going strong and I leave you in the Most Capable Hands of my Wonder Twin, Jason O'Donnell and the growing cadre of bloggers in Rational Client Support.
They, and everyone else at Rational Client Support, inspire me every single day with their dedication and passion for client success. You've got a great bunch of people to work with.
It has been my pleasure and joy to share knowledge with you here, and I hope we have been able to make a difference for you. So, of course, consider this one last plea for feedback from me. If you have found this blog to be of value to you over the past several years, a quick comment would be greatly appreciated.
As always, you can find me on t'internets as kellypuffs. (And hopefully, Jason will let me come back with the odd guest post now and then
* Jason's Editorial Note:
As you may have already noted, we are also adding other post authors to our growing list of contributors (it takes a lot of people to replace Kelly!), and will continue with this trend to make sure the blog here remains a solid and valuable resource for our clients and other IBMers as well. It is our commitment to take Kelly's work here and carry on the ideals she set forth when she began this blog: open, transparent, and authentic communication and collaboration for mutual success.
So we've got six weeks of the Working Outside the Inbox under our belts. The first five weeks were GREAT. We saw steady declines in our inboxes, and in the amount of mail we had to send out, and the proportion of good mail (per
Things were looking good for our fearless adventurers and we were riding the wave. Cowabunga!
Week 6? Not so much.
Which makes for a good blog topic. What about those speed bumps?
Sometimes, it all starts with one email. I'm sure you ALL have been there. One individual sends an email to a very wide recipient list. The recipients start replying .... to ALL. After a while, more folks chime in, either with their take on the situation or begging people to take the discussion elsewhere. Some of the other people on the email thread .. their heads (and their inboxes) are exploding. Several requests to move the email thread to a discussion forum prove fruitless, and there you go.
Or, you might be working on a sensitive project that is not suitable for sharing, or are dealing with an executive request (also not suitable for sharing). Sometimes email IS the best solution.
Perhaps you are working an urgent issue/project with people who are far outside your group, and driving them to a more collaborative solution is just not possible at this time. That's ok too.
Repeat after me, one more time: Change is hard.
This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. There will be speed bumps and there will be weeks that go better than others. And that's OK.
Don't get discouraged, keep on keeping on, and even when things are going pear-shaped, look for the wins. You might have a huge email thread going on, but you've also got a lot more people than ever before realizing that it's not the best way. And what about all those other wins you've realized ... use cases identified, patterns adopted. There's good stuff happening - a lot of it.
And remember, each speed bump is just another opportunity to model a better, a SMARTER way of working.
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Many of us have been following Luis' adventures in collaborating "outside the inbox" for 4 years now, ever since he first announced his radical plan on the internal blogosphere. Those of us passionate about the power of open, transparent and collaborative communication over "mail jail" have been cheering him on, all the while wondering how we could do the same.
Luis wrote a great blog post on the experience here, and I encourage you to go read it. Now.
I've taken many of the principles to heart, and have moved as much of my work as possible to collaborative technologies like Rational Team Concert and Lotus Connections.
I don't WANT to be the sole owner and disseminator of the information and content I produce.
I don't WANT my manager to have to ping me every time he wants to know the status of something.
I don't WANT to hoard information on MY machine and pass that information around every time someone asks for it.
SHARED knowledge is power.
As Luis stated so eloquently, we're probably not going to get rid of email entirely. But we CAN work smarter, more openly and transparently, one tran
spreadsheets -> wikisTo dos -> Connections Activities.
status updates, news, announcements -> blog posts
Next time you are working on something, think before you file it away on your computer. I bet there's a better way.
I KNOW there is.
kellypuffs 06000168YK Visits (3596)
Well, it's Week 2 of the grand WOTI experiment, and things are moving along swimmingly. We've got a nice little race shaping up in the Sent email department. Jason put us all to shame Week 1, by sending a grand total of three, count 'em, THREE (3) emails, easily winning the WOTI Overachiever of the Week Award. Week 2, we're all settled in for the long haul, and so i thought it would be a good time to discuss Step 2: Group Conversations and Identify Use Cases.
Luis Suarez tells us that it's easiest to first break up the mail in your inbox into 2 categories: Things That Belong in My Inbox and Things That Don't.
Things That Belong in My Inbox
Things That Don't
We've started breaking down the "everything else" bucket and grouping them into use cases. We'll be looking to move that information or transaction to a better home.
In a lot of cases, especially in these early days, that means transitioning closed conversations/ tasks/ knowledge-sharing to a more collaborative/open venue, and turning "bad" email into "good" email (aut
Here are some ideas:
Again, it all comes down to mindful processing of email, and spending just a couple of extra moments to stop and think .... is this the best way to share this information? Is anyone else likely to need this knowledge in the future?
Think NOT just of the immediate, tactical need for information or action, but the ability to capture that knowledge/action for reuse so that the entire organization can benefit in the future, and not re-invent the wheel, or waste time recreating knowledge assets that folks aren't sharing.
Is there a better way than email? I bet there is!