… and here’s what my numbers show thus far:

Week 1 Week 2
Outbox / sent: 2 8
Total Incoming: 116 228
Total opportunities: 41 64

Yup, I received nearly twice as much email in week 2 as I did in week 1. And I sent four times more email. That’s actually not a failure to me though. It is expected that in the beginning of trying to reduce your inbox, your outbox may suffer a tad as I am ignoring step 2 (Stop Replying!) in favour of replying with guidance to better alternatives. Mind you I haven’t had much opportunity (contrary to the ‘opportunities’ line above ) to reply like that, but one of my colleagues has, and it seems to be catching on as others are starting to see the value with communicating in forums and wikis to solve problems across teams.

For me, however, this week saw a huge win:
I have been working off-hours (after “work” but before Jean gets home, that no-man’s land of time when I am normally sitting at my desk and working anyways) on a small javascript tool to generate URLs based on user entered variables. Thanks to one of my colleagues who did all the heavy informational lifting over the past nine months, I was able to dig in and get this javascript tool working initially just based on the fact that he had shared this information on a wiki already, allowing me to work when he wasn’t necessarily available… and here is where the really big win was seen for me (aside from the tool itself which will be a huge benefit for me directly):

I was able to collaborate, test, validate content and sanity check with five other colleagues, then roll out the tool to an internal webserver all without sending a single email. Zip. Zero. Nada. No email was harmed in the creation of this tool!

Think about that for a moment. Over the course of two weeks, we went from concept to delivery of an internally deployed tool without sending any email. This includes all the testing cycles where bugs were found, corrected, retested, and other changes were updated and re-deployed to a test server. How did we do it? Easy. We used two wiki pages, our SameTime instant messenger service, and a total of 3 phone calls (one of which was to show another colleague what it does before we roll it out to a larger audience).

This little side project just inadvertently proved to me that projects CAN be run from start to finish with a minimal amount of e-mail exchanges. I say minimal here as this was a small scale proof of concept, and presumably larger more complex projects may require an e-mail or two… but I’ve shown that our alternative tools do a much better job of getting the job done, and therein lies the huge win.

We moved “working outside the inbox” from concept to reality for this project… and that excites me even more than being able to create a useful tool for me and some of my colleagues within IBM (which is itself rather exciting)!