Posts Tagged woti

The intrinsic fallacy of “I don’t have time for that”

Posted by on Wednesday, 19 June, 2013

IMG_0646There is no such thing as a lack of time. Anyone who tells you they don’t have time for something is outright lying to your face. What they are really saying is that your request or idea just isn’t a priority for them. And yes, I am just as guilty as anyone for saying I don’t have the time….

Unlike finances (which have a more relative scale), everyone on this planet has 24 hours in their day: no more, and with few exceptions, no less. So as it stands, we are all on an equal playing field with the same boundaries and limitations. The differences are seen by how we prioritize that time.

Sometimes when looking at new requests, we may need to rethink our current prioritizations, or more deeply, what the actual time impact of the request is. Take, for example, the idea that you want to start blogging… if you’ve read my prior post on the hidden costs of social engagement you may be less than inclined to take on such an endeavor… but what if I told you that you really do have time for blogging and that you’re likely already 9/10ths of the way there? Don’t believe me? Well, you have time to send email, right?

If you are sending email to more than one person on cc:, then you have time to blog. As my friend and social business colleague Ryan Boyles recently pointed out via his tumblr post: Doc Searls explained back in 2004 that “Blogging is Email cc: World.”   I’ve previously called this concept “scalable communication”, but I think that misses the simplicity and understandable nature of “cc: world”. The simplicity of one-to-many passive communication is the brilliance of social media. And, of course, as Ryan notes: tweeting is just like texting cc:world.

No, I am not saying stop emailing and make everything you write a blog post. But what I am saying is that just one wider audience email message could be easily converted into a blog post allowing for blogging to step up in priority without sacrificing something else in that time slot. With just a quick shift in perspective, you now have time to blog without a heavy toll on your time.

As we progress towards more open and transparent communication, with sharing our own expertise online becoming more important to our future careers, why not re-prioritize and start blogging once a week or so as your own email cc:ing the world? So, where is social involvement ranked in your priority list now that you have the time?

Working Outside the Inbox- A presentation

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 August, 2012

You’ve heard me talk about it before, how my colleague Kelly and I have been working towards inboxes of fewer and fewer emails. Following is a Slideshare presentation I built along with Kelly based on our prior blog posts to help evangelize the concept and distill the content into just the basics:

Working Outside the Inbox is a concept taken from Luis Suarez’ experiments working in IBM without using email. This presentation is based on the WOTI blog series published on the Notes from Rational Support Blog.  In this series we investigate some of the key items to use in your own attempts to reduce the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox, and drive towards a more open, transparent, and collaborative culture in the workplace.


Working outside the inbox- Stubbed my toe on a metrics table

Posted by on Tuesday, 3 April, 2012

Coming in to week ten and I’m still going strong, though not for the lack of some stumbling blocks along the way. Change is hard, after all, but none of my troubles were unexpected, nor that great of a hurdle. Really, all the “troubles” I’ve seen thus far revolve around my expectations and my own personal discouragement as I try to work outside of my inbox.

For me, this mild discouragement came in the form of some rather unremarkable metrics. I was hoping to see a great story come out after ten weeks of tracking both my inbox and outbox flows. Sadly, that story just isn’t presenting itself as I’d hoped. When first looking at them, I felt as though I’d stubbed my toe; a slight pain and a bit deflated, but nothing serious.  Take a look at my personal metrics for yourself (for clarity “bad” e-mail are all the types we’ve identified as potential opportunities to move those conversations to better tools, while “good e-mail reflects the automated notifications, meeting notices, and confidential communications appropriate for e-mail):


As I see it, even with nine weeks of solid data, no remarkable trend is evident. This is likely due to the fact that I’ve been working for the past few years to reduce my inbox clutter, and as such when we decided to begin tracking and formalize a more concerted effort, only slight shifts were/are evident (I’m honestly not sure why I was still secretly hoping for impressive trends to show up). In week 7 I saw a largish spike in some of the auto-notifications from one of our tools, which explains the bump in total and ‘good’ e-mails, though oddly enough I also saw a slight drop in my ‘bad’ e-mails as well, which was a good sign to me. Generally speaking the others also tracking their progress have seen similar trends.  All the while, however, I’ve been able to keep my outbox at a relative bare-minimum of sent messages; having opted for more work on wiki pages, instant messages, blog posts, and ensuring I cover questions during meetings making follow-up e-mails less likely and less necessary.

I’d love to see week nine’s downward trend continue for me, but I’m not holding for high hopes on that. Rather, I’ll rest on what I know is a true win for me, though I’m unable to document it: that my inbox has shifted from predominantly one-to-one and one-to-many messages, to simple tooling notifications over the past three years since we began more heavily utilizing collaboration communities. Had I been tracking my inbox back then, I’m sure that’s what the numbers would show me now.

Have no fear, intrepid reader, this doesn’t mean I’m beaten, broken, or giving up. No, I still see great value in driving the right conversations to the right channels, and will continue to use open and transparent communication methods to ensure our collective knowledge doesn’t find its demise through our inboxes, but rather flourishes when shared for future discovery. This whole idea really isn’t about killing email, instead it is just a provocative way to address a much-needed shift in culture to adopt collaboration tools more suited to the kind of work we do in this global economy. Effective and efficient collaboration is the name of the game these days, and email is a speed bump to the kind of knowledge sharing required for us all to be successful.
Feel like catching up with everything my colleagues and I been writing on our efforts to work outside the inbox? Check out our work blog, to which I have contributed a few posts… The following are all the posts to date surrounding our WOTI undertaking:

As always, if you’re playing along at home (or at work) I’d love to hear about your successes, difficulties, and everything in between!