Notes from Rational Support
kellypuffs 06000168YK Tags:  working-outside-the-inbox lawwe kellypuffs woti email 1 Comment 7,776 Views
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.
Use discussion forums for collaboration, idea sharing and brainstorming.....or collecting a quick temperature check from your community. Don't conduct a lengthy email exchange with one or more people about it. Be the first to suggest there is a better way to conduct this conversation.
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.
kellypuffs 06000168YK Tags:  email smarter-business smarter-collaboration luis-suarez inbox kellypuffs lawwe woti 6,951 Views
I've hinted about it before.
Inspired by our hero, Luis Suarez, your intrepid blog authors have decided to follow in his footsteps this year.
Jason, Matthew, and I are on a mission ... a mission to take our lives and our work back from the inbox.
Email is a great tool ... for a few things. It is NOT a great tool for many things that we currently use it for today: discussions, decision-making, file sharing, file repositories, questions & answers, newsletters, announcements.
We have the collaborative technology. We have the skilz. It's just a matter of "walking the talk", and persevering. A whole lot of persevering.
So we start today, with the Luis Suarez Magical 3 Step Pattern:
Honestly, I've been such a collaborative harpy for so long, we are doing a lot of this already. But now we're going to do it mindfully and consciously, and track our results like Luis did.
We'll also be providing updates on our progress here, along with the technical content you've come to rely on.
kellypuffs 06000168YK Tags:  productivity luis-suarez collaboration email kellypuffs 6,635 Views
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 transaction/email/deliverable at a time.
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.
Yes, I WAS there, and this is what I was doing. (photo courtesy of Charles Rivet)