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I think the last paragraph gets to the crux of the issue. "We should be encouraging our team members to pick up the phone or pay each other a visit before reaching for the keyboard". Another (nerdy) way of phrasing this is that we should reach out to synchronous communication methods (chat, voice, in-person) before resorting to asynchronous communication methods (email). Asynchronous communication methods tend to lead to messages piling up. However, as one moves to synchronous communication methods one faces the new issue that there is no easy way to refer to the mails where the asynchronous heavy lifting is done (mails that represent a process, mails where deep contextual discussion threads are required). What one needs is a way to refer to mails through some kind of tracking mechanism. My company wrote a blog article on this very subject recently. Disclaimer: I am the CEO of a startup (TMail21) that is about to launch. Our goal is to completely rethink email while preserving its good parts.
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Sep 5, 2015