Sunday, June 29, 2008

Break the email chain?

I once stepped out of a office and used my cell phone to call the person to whom I had been speaking, after he had interrupted our face-to-face business conversation to take a business phone call.

If I am talking in person to a person, I will not answer the phone. (I will return the call later.)

I tell my customers and clients that email is the preferred manner with which to contact me. Although this may seem to be a tautology, I answer emails at the time of day when I have the time to do so (usually early in the morning).

But there is a big problem with email as a business tool. When one's InBox is crammed full, email can become a nearly all-consuming time demander. Here's more on that, from an IBM IT-er:

I stopped using e-mail most of the time. I quickly realized that the more messages you answer, the more messages you generate in return. It becomes a vicious cycle. By trying hard to stop the cycle, I cut the number of e-mails that I receive by 80 percent in a single week.

It’s not that I stopped communicating; I just communicated in different and more productive ways. Instead of responding individually to messages that arrived in my in-box, I started to use more social networking tools, like instant messaging, blogs and wikis, among many others. I also started to use the telephone much more than I did before, which has the added advantage of being a more personal form of interaction.

I never gave up my work e-mail address, because I still need it for some work-related activities — for example, for one-on-one discussions that are too private and confidential to discuss publicly.

I Freed Myself From E-Mail’s Grip
Published: June 29, 2008
New York Times

I recently had a discussion with a brewer at a small brewery that is now partly owned by Anheuser-Busch.

Many of his days are devoted to responding to a barrage of emails from A-B managers, many asking the same questions or for the same reports, sometimes weeks after the fact, and many of whom he doesn't even know.

The above NY Times article might be of assistance to Anheuser-Busch, especially in light of their recent announcement of $1 billion of cost-cutting.

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