Please Remove Me...
I have just survived through a social networking mayhem. I woke up the other day with hundreds of mails jammed in my mailbox and it took me half an hour or so to clean them up. As I was going through the mails, I realized that it was started by someone accidentally posted a private message to a public group and that message was mass-mailed to everyone in that group. A few people replied to that mail after that and the whole chain of conversation could have just stopped. Unfortunately, an impatient group member blasted off a reply requesting to be removed from the mail chain and thereafter, setting off the first crack that led to a torrent of mails flooding in with similar requests. Helluva mistake! In just a few minutes, my mailbox was choked with tons of mails starting with – “Please remove me…”
It is amazing how people are using social media these days. We have seen how the notorious hacker group LulzSec has harnessed social media in a new and unique way to narrate its hacking activities on Twitter. We have also witnessed how Twitter and Facebook were used to spread and coordinate London’s recent riots. There is no doubt on the speed and power of using social media for communication and collaboration. The problem then is not so much on how to use it but how to use it correctly. Without proper regulation and governance, any mistake in social media could be fatal as in the case of congressman, Anthony Weiner, who fell from grace by mistakenly releasing X-rated photo of himself in Twitter.
With all the touted benefits, it is very tempting to link up social media with project management. In fact, there are a few project management tools (e.g. Wrike and Vantage) in the market that have already done so. However, just like any other usages of social media, it is important that we have proper governance in place to administer its usages. It is a double-edged sword. An efficient tool with a wrong usage simply implies that things will be done in the wrong ways more efficiently. Think about how rumors, once commonly spread through pantry talks, can be spread like wildfire through social media. It will become the favorite tool for the naysayers and gossipmongers to bring down your project. Even if you are lucky enough to escape the rumor wildfire, there is no guarantee that you will not end up like Anthony Weiner accidentally sharing or leaking out some confidential project information through the social media. Such a mistake will pronounce the end of your career as a project manager prematurely.
However, don’t get me wrong. I am not a hermit that hates social networking. On the contrary, I love social media and also an avid user of it. I just don’t like the idea of waking up one day with hundreds of emails in my mailbox requesting to be removed from my project social group. Call me a paranoid. I believe I do have good reasons to be paranoid.
Forward Me Not...
Email has become an integral part of our live. Most of us use email as the default mode of communication in projects too. However, the abuse on email usage has reached a level that we often find ourselves caught in a situation where we need to catch up with torrent of emails flooding our inbox on a daily basis. This is due to the fact that email applications are so easy to use that sending a mail is just a click on a button regardless of how many people you are sending to. For this reason, many people have developed a habit of pressing 'Reply to All' or 'Forward' to have their email copied to many, somehow unrelated, people. People do this for various reasons without understanding the consequences and impacts that these actions could have on others. One good example is confidential email accidentally forwarded to people who shouldn't have seen it. Another good example is people in the CC list busy clearing emails in their inbox just because of two monkeys actively exchanging email conversations on a personal topic through the 'Reply to All' button.
Fortunately, there might be an end to all these email nonsense. I recently stumbled across this nifty tool "NoReplyAll" developed out of Microsoft Research (click here to download the tool). It does what its name says exactly. After installing, it creates extra buttons at the end of the ribbon in your Outlook as shown in the diagram below.
As the names suggest, clicking on these buttons will prevent recipients of your emails from performing those two actions; clicking again toggles the relevant option's state back again. However, this is not a strong and tight control as there are still ways to circumvent the control mechanism. I leave it to you to find out. Hence, do not take this tool as a strong security control to prevent your recipients from forwarding your email to other people. It is just providing a nice and convenient feature for your Outlook to prevent recipients to reply-to-all or forward your email to others. This could potentially help to reduce the problems related to abuse on email usage described above. On top of these, this tool also includes a smart feature that reminds you when you send out an email with a blank subject line. There is also a similar feature that scans the contents of your email for words like "attached" and "attachment" and warns you to include your attachment if any of these words are found.
Say goodbye to the embarrassing moments due to missing subject line or attachment…