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Email Overload Can be a Good Thing, Too


There’s a smart post over at the Harvard Business Review’s Editors’ Blog about email overload, and whether it’s really as bad of a thing as everyone’s talking about. Editor Paul Hemp talks to Anne Mulcahy, who says that while email overload is one of her biggest pain points, it’s also crucial to managing her organization. People are more willing to put things down in email that they might not say to her, and therefore it’s critical that the use of email is not discouraged.

Mulcahy is right: People do put things in an email as a fast and convenient way to send news that might be painful or cumbersome to communicate otherwise. Email famously sends many a CYA message. It’s a record, a document, that something is communicated. While she’s facing reality—this is how people are going to communicate, no matter what, so don’t discourage its use. But it’s also important not to let such communication get out of hand. Encouraging an open-door communication environment, when there are other ways people are urged to share bad news, will help insure that very bad news doesn’t get lost in the inbox.


Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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