Dilbert on E-mail Overload

March 22, 2007 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Attention Management, communication | 1 Comment

Today’s thought provoker though comes from Dilbert:

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/dilbert-20070321.html

In case you can’t see the picture, it’s a riff on e-mail free Fridays, a phenomenon more popular in the press than in corporate America. It seems the idea is to reduce dependency on e-mail and/or e-mail overload by banning it once a week. If done once, I could see it as an interesting experiment to re-familiarize people who have forgotten how to use any other communication method with alternatives (face-to-face communication and phones no doubt). But there’s no reason Friday’s emails are any less important than any other days. And the examples I’ve seen in real life generally involve quite a few loopholes (clients, partners, emergencies, etc.).

If organizations feel e-mail is being overused I would prefer to see carrots to encourage better alternatives rather than sticks. Instead of instituting e-mail free Fridays, organizations can take tougher, but ultimately more useful steps to improve communications (from the presentation I’m giving in Las Vegas in May):

  • Encourage or force usage of unfamiliar tools. Establish patterns of behavior by selecting ways to push usage of underused tools (place registration for the golf outing on the intranet if people aren’t using the intranet for example)
  • Make sure the tools are as accessible as possible. Built into standard builds, links from the desktop, contextual access, provide clients for other devices as needed
  • Be the first to say “gimme a call”. Create collaborative discussions after responses go 3 iterations or more than a page.

I don’t see e-mail free Fridays as anything more than a gimmick or band-aid for dysfunctional corporate culture. But meeting-free Mondays is something I’d definitely back!

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1 Comment »

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  1. Thanks-a-mundo for the article.Much thanks again. Want more.


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