PET THEORY – Email continues to hold us back from learning to truly collaborate…

2011.12.18 – Recently I attempted to leverage Outlook’s nifty-and-genuinely-collaborative Task Tool to send NOT merely an email (a mere “message”) to a colleague, but to actually define and assign formal TASKS – which as you know is part of Mark’s theory on PRACTICAL COLLABORATION…

This was repsonded to with a prompt chat message – something to the effect of “please refrain from sending me numerous tasks, and just send me a big email message“…



Here it is 11 AS (“Anno SharePointo”) – a full ELEVEN YEARS after THE GOSPEL OF TRUE COLLABORATION was delivered unto to The Wretched Hoards – and we STILL DON’T GET IT…

… and THIS pushback is coming from PROFESSIONAL PROJECT MANAGERS.

Email is a COMMUNICATION tool – NOT a COLLABORATION tool. Until we as a population can grasp that mere COMMUNCIATION is NOT COLLABORATION, we will ever wallow in the quagmire of lost productivity, sending oceans of redundant, repetitive emails EVERY SINGLE DAY, and at the end of each new project, still WONDER why we’re having trouble COLLABORATING…


Mark is sad.
Sad sad sad.

There are days when I SWEAR I’m the only one I know who thinks this way.
Is this thing on? I KNOW you’re out there, I can hear you… STILL COMPOSING !@#$%^&* EMAILS !

Time to go for a cold dawn Sunday morning run.




  • The Sun Queen

    Hey Mark,

    Have you ever considered that you are not the only one who wants to collaborate in this fashion but that all the others are put off by your pretentious, pseudo-intellectucal, incoherent rants?

    Yes, we get it, you know what you are doing.
    Yes, we get it, you are awesome to hire as a worker bee (if it wasn’t for all the others ruining your vibe).

    Now get over it and people may actually want to collaborate with you.

  • Hey Mark,

    I’m with you! We need to move away from eMail, and for so many reasons; it hinders findability, knowledge sharing, collaboration, records management, etc.

    However, the reason people don’t ‘get it’ as you say, is because then can’t mentally map the various purposes for email into its alternative equivalent.

    There needs to be a comparative table developed… I remember working at a Christian Music store years ago. There were so many selections (Michael W. Smith, Petra, Liaison, Russ Taff, GVB, etc. ) that people would spend hours trying to determine a fit for their musical tastes. To help the process, I would often ask patrons – “what kind of music they liked” and “who they listen to”. Based on their input I would use a comparative chart or my own knowledge to point them to a band or artist with a comparative sound.

    Similarly a table needs to exist to match the communication requirement to the available products. Perhaps something on the order of:

    * “If you use email to announce events (parties, maintenance, etc)” – “Then use a Blog” Users can subscribe to it. They can pick and choose which blogs relate, helping to alleviate spam. Not all users need to know about the same things.
    * “If you use email to disseminate company policies” – “Then Use a Wiki” It can be easily updated and users always see what is current.
    * Etc.

    >>>Add links to these items in a webpage for New Users

    What do you think Mark? What would you and others add? As people understand the other tools and why they are better, the shift will happen…


    • admin

      Greetings Ken,
      All too often I get oceans of spam-comments; your legitimate comments were read with great interest.
      On past engagements (most notably General Growth Properties, OfficeMax, Hudson Highland and Elkay), I have indeed found myself with the task of training entire staffs toward making collaborating via SharePoint more “organic” in those organizations. I’ve created lap manuals, and even recall numerous training sessions wherein I verbally described – and even sketched on whiteboards – the sort of “If you do ____ this way with Email, do it this way in SharePoint” table you describe…
      … but I honestly don’t recall ever actually building (say) a poster or other human-friendly way to delivering a more permanent table like you’ve described.

      THANKS for the great-because-it’s-so-simple suggestion !

      I will target making this the topic of an upcoming post.
      You just made my day.


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