Everyone professes to dislike email.
In most offices, especially after the holiday break, you hear people competing about the number of emails they received – “I had 500 to deal with”, “that’s nothing – my inbox had 1000 unread messages”, “I actually took my blackberry on holiday so I could weed them out before i got back”
Then when you introduce communities of practice, and suggest that the community Q&A forum may use email, people say “Oh No – not MORE emails”.
And yet, you can’t keep people away from email. It’s the first thing they do when they come to the office. It’s the last thing they do at night. They check email at the weekend, and on the train. Email is communication, and lots of email means lots of communication and for most of us, communication is a large part of the job. The email habit is still very strong, and very strong to break. So why not work with it, and use email as a key enabler for KM?
Agreed, there is a lot of Spam email, which adds no value. There is a lot of email “FYI”, which is often overdone. There is a fair proportion of email that could be completely eliminated with no loss of value to anyone.
But for the majority of people, email is the best way to get their attention. With very few exceptions, email is the primary attention mechanism within most companies. For as long as people “have the email habit”, then our Knowledge Management activities need to be linked to email. Yes, there are better technologies, but why not align with the workhabits rather than try to break them?
- Link the community Q&A forums to email, so people are notified by email of new questions, and can follow a link to reply to the question.
- Link the community Blog to email, so people are notified of new items, and can follow a link to read it all, and comment.
- Link the lessons database to email so people are notified of new lessons, and new actions they need to take.
- Link the Wiki to email, so people are notified of new content
For a large proportion of people in a large proportion of companies, if they don’t hear by email, it might as well not have happened.