Friday, November 2, 2007

Entrepreneur Effectiveness alert - The curse & bliss of emails; mundane but important

This topic may not be sexy or intellectually challenging, BUT, I think it is important. As emails go, I think we are confusing effectiveness and speed.

I get in excess of 250 emails a day. So often important issues may be ignored due to volume and unimportant matters may take a lot of time. And I am not the only one inundated with so much volume.

The problem is that simple issues that can be resolved in minutes with a quick personal conversation actually take multiple emails. Important issues that require real discussion is boiled down to snippets of responses – the result is that decisions are most likely not as comprehensive and often based on either partial information or influenced by the desire to quickly get to a yes / no answer. We achieve speed of exchange but in a lot of situations lose effectives. I can’t count the number of occasions when efforts are duplicated because some one acted on partial information exchanges in emails and had to re-do things. Now, add the complications of global operations, language barriers and time zones and you have a real challenge on your hand.

There are clearly two schools of thought 1) short, abrupt, and to the point emails vs. 2) verbose and detailed – focusing on CYA. Some write so much stuff that makes me wonder, if they have nothing better to do, and others are so quick to rush to an answer that makes me wonder if they truly care about how their answers may effect the company results and effectiveness.

NO, I am not suggesting to go back to the dark ages. I am suggesting, however, that people are essential to execution and confused people can only produce confused results and effective communication is the only way to get to clarity of direction and purpose. One of the ten commandments of effective execution is effective communications – emails are effecting execution!

My advice, LEARN, AGAIN, TO USE THE PHONE for important issues, use the email for things that do not require fact finding and discussion. Be quick on trivial and very diligent on critical matters. Speed is important, but effectiveness is much more important than velocity.

Remember, the faster errors are made, the more errors can be made in a unit of time!