Your biggest enemy: CCs with attachments

Till now, most of my articles focused on individual efficiency. Now it is time to introduce team efficiency.

The most commonly used application is email. Unfortunately, it is also the biggest reason for inefficiency!

No matter how much you invest in collaboration tools, cloud based storage and so on… we still happily spoil our own lives by misusing email.

In the good old days when the only way of sharing documents was email, this was fine.

But good old days are over. Bad new days are in.

Does this sound familiar?

  1. You are supposed to create a critical document (say, response to RFP or Tender) and submit it before deadline
  2. You need inputs from technical team, finance, operations and legal
  3. So you create a shell document containing the main headings and send CC to those 3 people.
  4. Congratulations, now you already have four copies of the same document. That is called IT as an enabler!
  5. Each of those people try to put some information into the respective sections… and send it back to you.
  6. More achievement! now you have four documents with same name but different content
  7. You love such challenges. You have a Post Graduate degree in Copy Paste Management.
  8. With eager enthusiasm, you indulge in the pleasure of repairing Formatting inconsistencies, tables with their own minds, adamant pictures and incongruous collection of fonts
  9. Finally a 5th copy is born
  10. Now you send that copy to all those people again… because till now they have not had a chance to see what each other has written
  11. Welcome to 9 copies
  12. Now you get 3 more replies – another round of rejuvenating Copy Paste marathon
  13. After many such iterations the document is finally ready

We are so used to it, we don’t even think it is a problem

Experience with technology has taught us that this is absolutely normal. Part of the game. Everyone does it. Boss also does the same thing. Competitor also is in the same boat.

Is there really something like “MY documents”

In business context, My Documents is a misnomer. Invariably, you will need to involve someone else for something about any business document. For review, reference, inputs… whatever.

The hard truth is that even if you created a document, it is never fully yours!

The solution: Think before you Attach

Email was designed for communication and delivery of stuff. What used to go by telegram, telex, fax, courier can now be sent by email – faster and cheaper.

That is true even today. However, over the years, we have been misusing it for doing things which are not just inefficient, but they are actually hampering business execution.

We have to actively stop this bad habit.

There are two scenarios you have to choose from….

Am I delivering the document or am I sharing it?

Delivery means you give it to someone and then forget about it. No review, update, reply… nothing.

For example, if I send a mail to my staff with their salary slip attached, it is called DELIVERY.

Sharing is different…

Sharing means I am interested in what happens to the document even after I send it to others. When you attach a document which you are interested in – you are making a big mistake… You just created a copy of the document.

So the cardinal rule of sharing is that you never make a copy. The thing being shared is always a single copy. Others who want to work with it must use the SAME copy.

Sharing = 1 copy

Now the question is… where do we keep that copy? On your own PC? Or on a departmental server?

It should be in such a place that it is accessible to everyone who needs it but it should also be secure.

Finding such a place as a replacement to email attachment will improve your efficiency.

I will explain how to do this in the next post.

But for now … remember this…

CCs with attachments are the enemy of efficiency!