Email and the curse of the carbon copy

One of the great things about working for Surevine is the careful avoidance of email.

I know some of you are going to find that hard to understand or even imagine. But really, we don’t use email unless we really have to. And that probably means an average of less than once a day.

I bet some of you are thinking

“How do I communicate with my colleagues?”

“How do I disseminate information?”

“How will people recognise that I’ve done some work?”

Don’t be afraid, we still have it covered!

More modern thinking organisations are starting to see the difference between disposable chatter and information to be distributed and retained for future reference and splitting that into more appropriate communication channels.

A lot of email that is cc’ed to a wide group of people within a project is either status updates which have little value days or hours after they are sent and informative documents that will need to be stored and referred to again. And yet they’re all in the same mailbox with no distinction to the recipient. So, as a recipient I have a choice of carefully reading and filing each message or skimming over it all and missing important information and wasting time reading trivial updates that catch my eye.

So, throw email away and get at least 2 alternatives : a chat room and a document manager.

Now, as a consumer I know I can skim everything in the chat room and if I want to know something I look in the document management system. You can enhance that with FAQ systems and splitting dynamic content and fixed policy but those are really just more advanced implementations of the 2 basic methods.

As a “creator”, to let people know I’m still working, I put sensible updates in the chat room and if I need to communicate information to be stored for future reference, I can store it in the document system.

And, if all else fails, you might actually have to fall back on talking to someone.

Not only do Surevine use these alternatives, we create them. Chat and messenger applications, document management, wikis and the like are what we deliver to our customers as well as what we use ourselves.

Then email becomes almost irrelevant until you have a project with a less enlightened organisation and suddenly you find 300 emails you’ve been cc’ed on that need to be deleted….