Improving Email Behaviour. End of Campaign Report and Four Recommendations

20130120-115054.jpgIt’s funny how things turn out. Six weeks ago I wouldn’t have predicted I was about to embark upon writing a series of blog posts about email behaviours. Well I’ve done it, had a few surprises and learnt a lot. Now it’s time to pause and reflect.

It all started with a post about how to deal with the email backlog on the 2nd January. The main message here was just delete everything; the important stuff will find its way back to you. Quite a radical suggestion, apparently, which attracted a few comments, included one which led me into the next post. The email ‘cc’ option is undermining the very fabric of society, in a dystopian 1984 manner, was also quite a radical thing to say. My logic was based upon the misuse of the email ‘cc’ option and its impact upon trust between colleagues.  A fair few people seemed to agree so I went for the treble with a mauling of the misuse of email read receipts .

Reflecting on what has been my busiest and most viewed blogging period here are a few of the things I’ve learnt:

  • People are very generous in their support. This was in terms of the re-tweets/ shares and comments on the posts;
  • People are very balanced, thoughtful and positive in their comments. One of my anxieties when I started blogging was negative comments, thankfully I experienced none;
  • People are willing to share knowledge. Where I’ve missed something or posed a question, someone will offer the answer. At the end of the posts or in the comments you will see things where someone has pointed me in the right direction;
  • Technology is great, but if misused it can cause a few unexpected problems (like cc’s and read receipts), our behaviours are key. Final learning point;
  • You can never go wrong with a cat picture in your blog post. Obviously it needs to be relevant and tasteful. Gratuitous cat pictures are no good, which is why you need a top-notch cat picture consultant.

That’s it for this stage of this stage of my campaign for better email behaviour but there are four things I would recommend you look at:

  1. The Email Charter, 10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral. Good behavioural advice, remember; “emails don’t send emails, people do…..”, we all need to do our bit.
  2. Should I send this email?  A fantastic Infographic on how to manage email overload. The cat picture email question is addresses here, along with some startling statistics on the impact of un-necessary emails on business.
  3. A prediction that emails will be dead by 2018 .  This post, by David Christopher at Stop!ThinkSocial explains the thinking behind the prediction that was made in 2008. Keep an eye on progress.
  4. Practical Action. Predictions are fine, but what we all want is some practical down to earth experience. It doesn’t get more down to earth than a social housing provider in the North West of England, Halton Housing Trust. Their Chief Executive Nick Atkin (@nickatkin_hht) is on a campaign to ban internal staff emails which you can read about in this Guardian article. I’ll be eagerly following progress.

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. Inappropriately used technology can cause as many problems as it solves.
  2. Our behaviour is key, “emails don’t send emails (or do the other annoying stuff) people do”.
  3. People have been very generous, kind and helpful in response to my blogging and tweeting on this topic. Thank you.

20130120-115101.jpgSecondary cat picture. Need to check which is most appropriate with consultant.

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

14 Responses

  1. Brilliant post and links, thank you. My problem with the emails don’t send emails, people do is that about a third of the emails in my inbox are interesting things I’ve emailed to myself!!! So clearly the first person I need to tackle is myself and put good stuff in better places!

  2. I email links and notes to myself quite often & organise things to some extent by having different email addresses for different activities… more or less.
    The bottom cat picture is almost too cute… but I know that kitten would sink needle-sharp claws and teeth into anyone that tried to move it off that keyboard, so it retains enough edginess not to tip over into ‘too cute.’

  3. […] keen undertaking his own research into email behaviour in a series of blogs recently. In Improving Email Behaviour. End of Campaign Report and Four Recommendations Chris summaries his conclusions and offers tips for us all to learn from. We also have lots to […]

  4. I love the idea of an e-mail charter to moderate behaviour and use of e-mails as a medium.

    I think companies and organisations could really benefit from setting down ground rules as to when e-mailing is and not appropriate, and as to who should be copied in on which e-mails.

  5. I love the idea of an e-mail charter.

    All companies and organisations would benefit from setting out some ground rules on e-mail use for its employees (i.e. when it is appropriate to send an e-mail, who to copy in and when) – I’m sure it would improve efficiency across the board too.

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