As some of my friends know, I have sent out an SOS, asking about what collaborative tools people use in their companies. Big and small. Call me naïve, but I was surprised to hear that email still reigns. It is still the preferred Vice of Choice. Why is that? In the early days, a lot of people felt loved and needed if they got a high number of emails in their inbox. These days, it is more of a nuisance than anything else. And how does one really collaborate with email. Instead of sitting here and whining about the volume of emails like everyone does, I will highlight how I collaborate and communicate with email — I will keep special add-on tools out of this since there actually does exist more options than just Outlook. When I get an email and want to share my thoughts with others (and I know others will jump in to comment too), I do the following:
- Start all comments with my initials, such as SKW
- Highlight all my comments in a certain color (I try to be consistent and always pick lime green since Green seems to mean ‘Good and Go for it.”
- If I add more than once comment, I add a number next to it – like a different software version such as “SKW.2
- Be consistent with highlighting all my comments in a color
- Cut and paste key quotes or information from the older part of the thread (I hate when I have to go on a treasure hunt and scroll down to find relevant or important information)
But I am getting way into the weeds. I should go back to my original question about why email is still the Collaborative Vice of Choice. A major reason is that it’s what we know. How many times do we go in a company and get asked to use a certain web based technology without any training or context about why we should use it. Like all collaborative processes, it’s always good to provide some context up front about why we might use Yammer or another tool.
Different thought: When I sent out my SOS this am, most of the responses were from vendors who wanted to convince me that their product was the answer to my dreams. First rule of collaborating, understand your partner-in-crime’s needs before offering a solution. Kind of like Active listening, eh?