Front Porch Discussions and Common Sense

The best discussions happen on front porches, not in offices. Last night, a friend and I were sitting on the front porch and he asked me to tell him what I do. I explained, and then he just shook his head.

“Email is nuts! I go into work and see all the stupid stuff that gets sent my way and I just have to deal with it,” he said.

We talked a little bit more and then a crazy dichotomy came to mind. How is it that most of us have not used email to manage our personal lives in more than ten years, but when we walk in the office door every morning, we’re expected to manage our entire businesses with it?

Most of us use social media in one version or another and get things done with a minimum of bother outside the office doors. We don’t have to manually disposition anything. We just read/learn what we must, respond as needed, and know that it will be there for recall if we ever need to reference it again.

In contrast, think of the times you must arrange or discuss something at work. Someone sends an email to a group, asking a question. Some people reply to all, some just to the sender. As the morning progresses, a discussion gets going and everyone replies to the most recent of the barrage of emails, sometimes in the same thread, sometimes in a parallel thread.

By the time all is said and done, that single discussion has plugged up your inbox with 20 or 30 emails. You spend the entire morning deleting or storing emails. If it is a discussion worthy of archiving, you don’t know which email thread to save because there is always a late arriving message with newer information.

That is 40-year-old technology and it’s draining your business of time that could be spent making widgets or providing services to your customers.

What are your thoughts? Are you bothered by the insanity of it all?

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