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Summary:

Stowe Boyd reports that BT Global Services CIO JP Rangaswami has radically rethought his approach to email in two ways. First, he only reads email that’s directed to him alone, not email on which he is cc’ed. Second, he has made his email available to his […]

Stowe Boyd reports that BT Global Services CIO JP Rangaswami has radically rethought his approach to email in two ways. First, he only reads email that’s directed to him alone, not email on which he is cc’ed. Second, he has made his email available to his staff:

More interestingly, he has opened access to his email to his staff. By treating his email as an open forum, he has found that his associates are more involved in his interactions with others. He has found that they can use this — particularly his sent mail — is a great learning opportunity.

Opening up email strikes at the main problem of email as collaboration tool, that is, that our archives are only available for our own reading and perusal. It turns email into a message board of sorts.

As a high-ranking executive, Rangaswami has the chance to make a real change in the email culture in his organization. Most staffers couldn’t choose to ignore emails that they were cc’ed on — because the cc’er might be their boss. Also, most staffers might not have email of high enough value that other staffers would benefit from browsing it, especially given many of the messages would overlap due to the cc factor itself. A software solution could eliminate duplicates though.

If you took these ideas to their logical extreme, you might eliminate email entirely in favor of forums and wikis. Perhaps when this generation’s teenagers take over, they’ll do just that, given their lack of emotional commitment to email.

This is the latest in the trend of reconstructing our relationship to email. In March, Amazon Web Services evangelist Jeff Barr called hopefully for a post-email era. Last week we explored the concept of email bankruptcy, where you abandon the project of getting through all the email in your inbox and admit to all the senders you’ll never reply. Now C-level execs transform the rules.

  1. Interesting – a clever way to break the tape worm drain of email while more deeply engaging employees. In my fat aerospace days, I had empowered a secretary to manage my e-calendar, and many peers allowed secretaries’ to read and sort email. Not as bold as you cite, but enough of a step such that broader access shouldn’t cause complete revolt. The only concern I’d have with the open email paradigm described would be privacy for those that send an email under the assumption it is a point-to-point communication, not a broadcast for all to see. Although most realize that corporate email, esp. sent to the “C” level, is not private, emails directed to lower-rung folks is more typically assumed to be private.

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  2. E-mail fails completely as a “collaboration tool” because most people don’t know the first thing about how to use it to communicate with one person, rampant top-posting being the most obvious and egregious example.

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  3. Here within the Air Force this is a very common occurrence – especially with our high-ranking General Officers. In my particular position I work within the General’s “Workflow” box – which is a transition point for all work coming into or out of the organization – 5 of us have full permissions to that box and use it to pass ‘tasking’ down to other organizational “Workflow” boxes that are accessible by everyone within that orgnization (they are then filtered down into further “Workflow” boxes until a particular workcenter has control of that job).

    In addition, the General’s personal mailbox, is accessed by his assistant staff as well as his top-tier Colonel’s. Most of the time, the messages coming into this box will be passed on to these people for review/action anyways – why waste time forwarding the messages around?

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  4. Ten years ago, a senior exec in hal.com would share his email with any of the following:
    an Executive Assistant – rising star on assignment to the senior exec’s office to have his view broadened – expected to fix the “easy 80%”
    a Personal Assistant – who fixed all calendar and logistics problems
    a Technical Executive – who sorted out the hi-tech stuff

    I suspect there was a personal email address only known to a few people such as the CEO.

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  5. I’ve recently started doing this with two of my employees (OM and marketing/publishing). I have a personal email, but by opening up the other email address, we’re much more connected and aware of what’s going on. This is really helpful if you’re all working out of different offices/homes. Interesting to see this shift is happening…

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  6. [...] CIO Revolutioizes the Rules of Email – from Web Worker Daily [...]

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  7. This idea works for standard non-complex messages and communication. If youre an able informationworker you should be able to handle large incoming amounts of messages. If not then it is not the e-mail system, it’s either the way you process information or the way your organisation processes information. And no amount of assistants or opening up the mailbox of the CEO will solve that.

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  8. Hej!
    Check this out!
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  9. [...] A CIO Revolutionizes the Rules of Email, Web Worker Daily [...]

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