Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ask Not How to Get Rid of Email...

...ask how to communicate better in the context of your projects.

There is some good advice in this Forbes piece on how to get rid of email in your company. I am all for reducing my time using email, but perhaps we should ask a different question. I think the question should be: 
How can we get more/better work done through better communication?
A tool is just a tool. Certainly we can all agree that there is a need to communicate with people in our companies to get work done. We don’t need email for that. There were plenty of billion dollar companies before email. Sure, email made communicating easier, faster, and better. And perhaps enterprise social networks will take it to another level. I certainly think so. But if we just change the question from how to get rid of email to how to work better, it opens up an entirely new set of possibilities. 

Think about all of the work tasks we perform every day that require communication. From kicking off a project to working on a proposal to getting people to review training course content, we have a continuous need to work with others to get our jobs done.

The point is that communication should be done in the context of the work, not outside of the work. With email we remove a work product from where it lives (Share drive, local hard drive, thumb drive, etc) and place it in an email and send it all around. With enterprise collaboration technologies, the document stays where it is (Box, Confluence, etc) and people are pulled into the document to work on it.

So, the next time you want to send an email asking someone to contribute to a task, stop and ask yourself, "How can I pull them into the task rather than sending the task to them."

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