Taking responsibility for the issue
Email is personal. It is vital to today's knowledge worker and it has delivered huge commercial benefits resulting from the features of speed, immediacy, interconnectivity, time displacement and informality. The personal costs are now becoming increasingly clear - nearly all users admit that they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email and they are finding that it is taking up huge amounts of their time.
From the other end of the telescope email is a major issue for those managing an organization employing a high proportion of knowledge workers.
It is a significant consumer of time - up to two hours a day on average for each person and rising at a rate of over 10% a year. As a recent introduction on the back of technology hardware it has resulted in new, unmonitored and often inappropriate behavioral practices that are occurring on an almost universal scale throughout organizations. As a result a large part of the time spent on email is wasted time. Email practices are beginning to be counter-productive - to slow down decision taking and to reduce the effectiveness of decisions.
The true extent and nature of email behavior is neither measured nor understood by management, they do not have the systems in place to provide them with adequate data to manage the problem. There are no centrally agreed standards of behavior for email - there is no ‘highway code'.
These unmonitored behaviors are exposing organizations to significant risk, much of it with important financial implications.
There is a New Yorker cartoon that has a baseball coach on the mound whispering to the pitcher ‘It's not you it's me'. With email he's right.
Management needs to make a coordinated and systemic response to this new and fast-growing phenomenon.