November 20, 2005


Posted by Bizaholic | 11:43 PM | , , , with 0 comments »

Man creates technology to simplify life and then uses the same technology to complicate life. What an irony! Take email for example. The promise was to write obituary of snail mail. The promise was to simplify the communication process and make it more efficient. With these simple promises the email revolution begun. A few years into this revolution, I wonder whether it has met its objective. Being a victim of this innocuous revolution I can emphatically say 'no'. On any given day I receive 50 to 100 official mails and send an equal number. And I’ve no doubt that email has complicated my life in corporate ecosystem. No, it's not technology but the way we handle technology that has created havoc.

In my short corporate career I have seen both use and abuse of email. In fact, more abuse than use. Every individual in the corporate ecosystem has his own manual on the use of email. Damn the official email policy of the organization. Here are some typical cases:

These are very crazy guys who have their default set at “REPLY ALL”. One hit of the button and the reply goes to everyone from CEO to Junior Executive. Here is a sample. A guy sends a policy note to all the concerned people across entire India (around 60 people). His boss hits the “REPLY ALL” trigger and then writes “Please meet me. Have to discuss some issues regarding this”.

CC – Man
He is a close cousin of ‘Spammer”. This guy gets great pleasure in putting names of everyone he knows in the ‘cc’ field. Only God knows why? So I keep wondering why I have received a particular mail when I have nothing to do with it. May be the CC – Man species wants to let everybody in the organization know that he is working actually and not sleeping on his job.

TO – Man
This is the most confusing sort of guy. He specializes in putting as many names in “TO” field as he can. So if he is sending mail to five Branch Managers seeking some data from them and wants to keep informed some 10 people on this issue, he writes 15 names in “TO” field and none in “CC”. This breed of people confuses me a lot as I never understand whether I am supposed to do the job or the other people adorning the “TO” field.

Hardcopy please
This creature is quite unique. He wants to read his emails on the crisp A4 size paper rather than on the LCD display of his laptop. Well I know of a Vice – President level guy who gets hardcopy of all his emails and even dictates all emails to be sent from his side. And his poor laptop keeps sitting idle whole day on his table. So much for the use of technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness!

Once in a month
This creature is great. He doesn’t bother much about emails. He typically checks his mails once every month. So don’t be surprised to see his replies and forwards like “Hope this has been done”, “Please resolve the issue”, “Please ensure immediately” etc. after a month of actual resolution of the issue. Here is a sample of my plight. Sometime back I received a mail from a colleague with a request to resolve some problems in an auto-generated report. He had marked a CC to our ‘once in a month’ guy also. I got the issue resolved the same day. 25 days later I received the same mail forwarded by our ‘once in a month guy’ with the text “Please resolve it and confirm”. I thought that the problem has once again erupted and I harshly asked the person responsible for generating that report as to why this problem keeps erupting again and again. He had no clue of my wrath. It was only on careful reading of the mail that I realized that this is regarding the bug reported 25 days back. Whew! From that day onwards the first thing that I do on receiving emails from these ‘once in a month’ type of guys is to read all the dates mentioned in the entire string. The email user manual of ‘once in a month’ types state that “EMAILS ARE ONLY FOR SENDING AND RECEIVING POLICY NOTES. OTHER THINGS MAY BE TAKEN CARE OF ON A MONTHLY BASIS”.

No reply
These are self – exalted creatures. They read mails but don’t feel that it is important to reply. You keep sending mails and they will keep ignoring you as if they are demigods and you are a lowly mortal. They will come into action only when you pick up the phone and give them a verbal therapy.

Forward this to 10 people within 5 minutes or……
No, I am not talking about the mails you get in your yahoo and hotmail accounts. I am talking about the corporate emails that you get in your lotus notes and outlook express. This breed has hardly any work except forwarding these junk mails to and fro. Don’t be surprised to see the same mail promising luck, money, grant of wish, etc. 10 times in you mail box. The modus operandi is simple. The first person has already put 15 names (or whatever is the minimum requirement) in the TO and CC field. So you just have to REPLY ALL to get your instant money and luck. Just imagine the scenario if everyone who receives these mails hits REPLY ALL.

Should I call these “tyranny of email” or “tyranny of man”?