Email makes you stupid – so what can we do about it? #

Luis Suarez (@elsua), curator of the Life without eMail G+ community, has posted a Vodcast co-presented with Claire Burge (@claireburge)

Here’s the full video:

30)

Here are my notes on the highlights of what Luis and Claire think is wrong with email:

Email creates a dumber workforce” ( 3:02), because ( 4:02) the structure of email forces an obsession with emptying the inbox without action.

Email is a selfish tool ( 4:59) – centred around individual, not team or company goals (because you cannot see the impact of your email on the other person’s workload).

Email doesn’t help people focus on work ( 7:20) – it misdirects focus and attention. Stuff just flows in, recipient is expected to filter and sort ( 7:45). People don’t have time, so fall back to just emptying the inbox and treating their email as a task list. This leads to inefficiency through constant task-switching ( 8:10).

The inefficiencies are not about the technology, but about the human behaviours it engenders ( 8:58).

[more and more] people justify their workload by how many emails they process ( 9:22) – so if we take away the email you they have nothing to do. The implication ( 10:27) is that all the company knowledge, contacts, content and tasks are locked in email

Email gets used as a tool for covertly managing staff ( 10:45) – yes some interactions need to be confidential, but most aren’t.

Knowledge is power ( 11:25) – share as little as possible. Which means ( 12:09) that when someone leaves the company, much of the knowledge they created is lost.

In an increasingly-complex world, email is no longer an effective productivity tool ( 12:48) – nowadays the environment is complex – multi-project, multi-team, multi-geo – this means companies need open collaboration ( 13:36) which email cannot provide. Email has been around so long ( 13:50) that people are scared to try other things. Email doesn’t engender the behaviours we need to be effective in the modern business world ( 15:08).

Some behaviours need to be unlearned, some need to be taken from email to a new environment ( 15:27):

Deep parallel between closed inbox mindset and static fixed job descriptions. What results is a series of blockages to the flow of work. ( 27:30)

Collaborative environment exposes the blocks, ( 27:56) but this leads to enquiry into the root causes of blockages, making it about the flow of work rather than about the person ( 28:24)

But, if you keep evolving the process to make the work better, then the job descriptions have to keep evolving too (29:08)

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Julian Elve
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change

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