Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Taming the email monster

Craig Ball

E-mail should be easy. It's got those handy subject lines. It's electronically searchable. The circulation list's right up front. It's a cinch to file.

In reality, e-mail conversations veer off topic, search is hit-or-miss (CUL8R), addresses are cryptic ( and only the most organized among us file e-mail with anything like the effort once accorded paper correspondence. Personal messages rub elbows with privileged communications, spam and key business intelligence.

During WWII, everyone knew, "Loose lips sink ships." But does every employee appreciate the risk and cost of slipshod e-mail? Get tough on e-mail through policy -- then train, audit and enforce. Train to manage e-mail, appreciate that messages never die and know that hasty words are eaten under oath. Tame the e-mail beast and the rest is easy.

Lotus Notes used to have a handy feature that after you sent every email it would ask you if you wanted to save it, where you wanted to file it, or if you just wanted to delete your copy. Almost always you wanted to delete it. Lotus had the same feature every time you opened an email, did you want to file it, delete it, or just leave it in your inbox. It is much easier to do this as you go rather than go back and decide what to do with each note and it puzzles me that this feature is not standard on email software.

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