E-mail. It’s Broken. Stop Relying on It.

Okay, rant time. Something that has bugged me on just about every project I’ve ever been on is the over dependence on e-mail. I’m going to use the word “you” a lot here. It’s not directed at you reading this per se but rather the people I’ve had to mercilessly beat with a club over the course of my career.

My dearest, darling You:

  • How many times have you been so flooded with e-mail that you had to deal with it over a weekend?
  • How many times have you just deleted huge chunks of e-mail without reading them because there was too much?
  • How many times have you absently hit the down arrow in your inbox, flagging each message as read because a preview pane was open?

So why, why, why, why do you assume that because you sent an e-mail to someone, they actually read it? Do the rules that apply to you somehow not apply to other people? Do you actually think that the rest of the world’s inboxes are empty vessels waiting for your prosaic glory? Do you smoke crack?

Listen, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t send e-mail. I send it. Lots of my friends send it. For something frivolous, it can be fun and as a written record of something that happened, it’s the bee’s knees! But if you’re going to use it as a tool that requires a response or an action, IT. DOESN’T. WORK.

Consider the following:

Solutions to Communications

It’s true, your solution is certainly an approach that could be chosen over others, but if you actually think anybody is going to thank you, praise you, or think you did a good job because you washed your hands of something you could have taken care of, do us all a favour: THINK AGAIN.

Now I’m referring to the “you” reading this rant. If you feel my pain, pass this along. Let the whole world know that e-mail is broken and currently the only available workaround is to be responsible!

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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