E-mail & what can do it better . . cont

I have a well defined, high stakes, major project, with several members in the team, complexities around goals, timelines an politics: the Moodle trial.  A dead sitter for a better way to work.  I am going to find another way.

Week 8 with Luis on his “experiment, or initiative, at work where (he has) diverted most of (his) conversations into social computing and social software tools, both internal and external” is written up here: www.elsua.net/2008/04/07/giving-up-on-work-e-mail-status-report-on-week-8/

And here are the stats:

E Mailinput

I couldn’t do this of course.  Yet. I have fallen off the wagon again (I have got over 50 e-mails in my intray), but a passing comment to Diane at work (Thursday last week, about Luis) resulted in a passing comment today (“I thought about sending you an e-mail, but decided you didn’t need one”)  Cool eh!!  But this has set me thinking.

Collaborating around a wiki: the meeting scenario

I spent some time today trying to share a new way of working with our team.  When working on this well defined project, Lets use a wiki and a forum. Lats take minutes as we go: simple actions who, what, by when – we got a wiki set up, even has a nice WYSIWYG editor, and made a start.

Things that slowed us down.

  1. Failing to distinguish between Wiki and Page on wiki.
  2. Not knowing when a page is required, and when just some more text in the page is needed.
  3. Worrying in detail about formatting while we were merely getting down a few bullet points.
  4. Too small a font on the data show.

It was cool, and we made good progress.

However: last week, one post to the project forum lead to three personal replies to my intray (all of which should have been in the forum), and one in the forum, and one person saying “I did reply to you (didn’t I)?”.  Five interactions. I bet we can use the forum better.

I’m just deciding: do I have the nerve to say

“For this project, communicate ONLY via the wiki, the forum and the file sharing area (with it’s comments)”
Unless (as Luis says) it is a personal e-mail.
OR – wander into my airless hole of an office and talk to me.  (Just don’t send me e-mails)

This would save a LOT of hassle.

Luis has made his post on Twitter.  I will get to it.  One question I have is this: How do we keep up with each other and what we are all working on, feed in comment when something may be of interest . .   maybe a twitter-like blog of some kind?

Scenario, in the Moodle trial: Say in one day, Glen has made five discoveries on different topics (some bad), he has solved three problems, done a Moodle hack (or two), heard back from a consultant, will need to leave a meeting early.  I need to tell him about a CSS problem, a setting I cannot find and I’m interested in half the things he’s worked on.  I’m sure there is a better way to work than each of these needing an e-mail  Have Skype open?  Dunno. Yet.

One thought on “E-mail & what can do it better . . cont

  1. Hi Derek! Another good blog post and very insightful! Thanks for following up on this. Really enjoying the conversations. About the above entry … here are a couple of thoughts:

    – Your comments on Diane’s feedback, that’s exactly what I am seeing today myself with the people I collaborate with. This whole campaign I am trying to go with is helping people challenge themselves, not just me, how they use e-mail and judge whether the other person, or people, would really need to receive it or not. And it looks like it is working out all right for you. I have had the same experiences all along and can certainly confirm how once people get to re-think and challenge the e-mails they send I bet you would be getting less and less. I am sure! Thus keep it up!

    – With regards to how to keep ahead of curve and find out what’s going on one of the things I have set up for myself is a set of feeds of where all of the action happens, i.e. blogs, wikis, social bookmarks, etc. etc. so that it all comes through a single place: my feed reader, which is never going to become an inbox, because the action is elsewhere, out in the open and not in my feeds. So you may be able to consider that as an option. I am sure you do already.

    Another approach would be, for instance, using applications close to what FriendFeed is trying to achieve. A massive aggregator of all of the online activity from various people, i.e. your social networks, so that you don’t have to hunt it down elsewhere. There are a bunch of offerings like that one and thinking that it may help you find what you need… Just a thought.

    Thanks again for the link love and for the feedback!

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