French Caldwell

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French Caldwell
VP and Gartner Fellow
15 years at Gartner
19 years IT industry

French Caldwell is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, where he leads governance, risk and compliance research. Mr. Caldwell also writes and presents on knowledge management. His research includes analysis of the impact… Read Full Bio

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I Hate E-Mail (with apologies to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

by French Caldwell  |  January 23, 2013  |  Comments Off

“I have seen war….  I hate war.”  Whenever I see this FDR quote at his memorial in DC, I unwillingly substitute the word ‘e-mail’ for ‘war.’

I have seen e-mail.  It’s blunt force and unwieldy – it turns brilliant discourse into foggy stew.
It’s the default when your processes don’t work.
It’s a panacea for our shy natures – we don’t have to talk to anyone.
It enables procrastination.
It helps us pass the buck – by sending an e-mail we claim we did something, when in fact we did nothing.
I could go on about all the negative sides of our nature enabled by e-mail, but I’ll spare you.
I hate e-mail.

What made me think of this today was a long e-mail string that started with some comment on a McKinsey Quarterly interview of KM guru, Don Tapscott. Dr. Tapscott wants us to use social and collaboration tools, instead of e-mail — which is fine, and for team project oriented work is well proven and perfectly acceptable.

But like it or not, and I don’t like it, e-mail is the default social collaboration tool for most workers these days, and that’s not likely to change even with the advent of social media — in fact, don’t most of us look at social media after we get an e-mail telling us that someone commented or poked us? Well, there ya go, folks.

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