One year of Collaborate! (and a little on impact)

I’m happy to report that it’s been one year since I launched this blog; thanks for visiting.   Anniversaries are good times for reflection.

On the plus side:

  • I’ve enjoyed the writing exercise and I’m happy with my posts
  • I’ve found prompts for writing in a number of places
  • I think they have been interesting, at least when I re-read them I think they fill a hole in the body of knowledge

On the minus side:

  • I had hoped to write more often, I had weekly, or at least 3-4 times a month
  • I don’t like the excuse that I don’ t have time

That said, I will report that it has been a year of learning and growth for me.  I’m looking all over for prompts and I’m keeping a backlog of ideas to develop.  I also have taken some steps to make more time.  Some of you readers will be familiar the great work of Luis Suarez and his blog.  His compelling story of getting out of email tyranny has really inspired me to do greater things.

We had the pleasure of having Luis present “Living in A World Without Email” to a lunch and learn session for our client a little while back. After the session, the conversation continued in the client’s Yammer community. One of the participants was a little skeptical about whether moving from the email in-box to a social media environment actually made a difference:

I have two issues. One–seems to me Luis is just transferring the time he spent typing e-mails to typing into his collaboration tools, which brings me to…, Two–time is time, regardless of whether you’re e-mailing or using other “collaboration” tools–the point is productivity. Reduction of e-mails is not a measure of productivity. What are the metrics we’re going to use to validate the effectiveness of a world without e-mail? Just asking.

My response:

Let’s see if we can take it the next step. You are right that the individual measure of productivity, time, is time. If you took 3 hours to get through your in-box and you transferred 3 hours to reading feeds and network activity, there’s no gain (although, Luis would say that better in-box hygiene does, in fact, reduce unproductive activities).

But the point of collaboration is “co-labor”. Other metrics come into play: 1) time to respond (process latency), and 2) time to complete (duration).

As Luis mentioned, there are required behavior/expectation changes. When you send an email to 20 people, you are doing a “spray and pray” [my term, not Luis’]. Only you and the 20 people know what the request was. Furthermore, you don’t know how much noise each of them have to wade through to get to the request and you can’t control accidental deletion of the message.

By putting the request in a collaboration space where your co-laborers expect to work, you get to the work sooner (you don’t depend on the individuals finding the activity in the in-box below all the other urgent or more recent stuff). Our experience is this yields earlier task completion, too.

So, I’ve taken the plunge.  Immediately after hearing Luis’ challenge, I started unsubscribing from email newsletters (there were over 80 in the first week and I have unsubscribed from over 150 in total, but the frequency has really dropped now).   I have freed up probably 10 minutes a day just in the time I save not deleting junk mail.  So now, I’m one step closer to not being my own worst enemy.

Here’s how I’m making it happen:
1) prune the clutter – CHECK!
2) identify where your important email comes from – CHECK, mostly the client
3) encouraging my colleagues to join me in the collaboration space and stop sending the attachments (easier to do with the folks I evaluate)

This year will be a better year.


3 thoughts on “One year of Collaborate! (and a little on impact)

  1. Hi Dennis! First of all, my dear friend, happy bloggiversary!! Way to go! Hope you will be having many many more with plenty of inspiration and great insights shared across with us! It’s a true pleasure reading plenty of the rather thought-provoking blog posts you have been putting together all along! Keep it up! We will be coming back over and over again! 😀 hehe

    Right, with regards to the comments from the customer (I think I already responded internally in our w3 Boards), but to the comments on “Reduction of e-mails is not a measure of productivity”, I must say that it is! If by receiving less emails because I have moved the conversations into social spaces what it actually means is that I am spending more time outside my Inbox, therefore being exposed to an unprecedented information and knowledge flow that would allow me, not only to find experts much faster and easier, but also the right information, right when I needed! It’s that clarity and willingness to “narrate your work” that will help people speed up faster and become more efficient at what they do on a regular basis.

    Also, a little while ago, Ross Mayfield, on another blog post, he indicated how more and more the vast majority of emails received were becoming exceptions to already existing business processes. So those exceptions eventually slowed us down when pushing forward those business process. Thus, if I can reduce my email count, I am also reducing those exceptions and focusing, much more profoundly, on that collaborative task of executing that business process in an open, public and transparent manner on social spaces.

    Yes, I haven’t quantified yet for myself and shared it openly across with everyone, more than anything else because if I do, then people could make a rather educated guess of things that I would want to keep private for the time being, like my salary slip 😉 hehe

    But it may not be such a bad idea to keep pushing for this on a corporate level where we could generalise on the amount of hours saved by avoiding those exceptions to business processes, i.e. email and which would then make us all more efficient :-))

    Let’s keep the conversation up! Thanks again for those kind words and glad the inspiration is still there, alive and kicking! Keep it up! 😀


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