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Articles and Blogs of Note August 2016

Posted Monday August 1st, 2016, 8:36 pm by

These four themes dominated the press and social media over the last few weeks, what to and not to put in an email, the Clinton email scandal, our digital habits and whether or not email is dying.Typewritter

  1.  Bad day at work? Don’t say it by email. Its no secret that most companies have the ability (and authority) to monitor what you say in an email. Few do so unless they have a reason. Banks are always on the look out for early fraud indicators and email content is one. So it was not surprising that phrases like ‘I am not happy’ and ‘I’ll take care of it’ are picked up by banks like Goldman Sachs. The moral, be on your guard when including emotional feelings into a business email. They are best kept for either your personal email account or social media. Click here more.
  2. Clinton Email-gate. For those not aware, the gist is that Hilary Clinton used a personal email account to send emails relating to US Government business. Click here for more details and lessons we can all learn from this on-going saga. Although it might be tempting to forward emails from work to home, the bottom line is don’t, as you may put your career at risk. Even though Clinton has been cleared of a major security break the saga continues to dog her Presidential campaign.
  3. Our digital habits. More than 29% of American’s would rather give up sex than their smart phone for a week! These are the findings on how smartphones now dominate many people’s life and especially Millenials who feel under great pressure to respond immediately to messages. Although conducted in America and by a software developer (Delvv) there are some useful insights and especially for those interested in the generation gap. For example, only 68% feel phubbing is OK and perhaps not surprisingly those who are more anxious and less happy often expect a faster response than those of the opposite disposition. (Phubbing – snubbing someone you are with physically in favour of checking your phone eg having coffee.)  Click here for more.
  4. Is email heading towards extinction? In a bold attempt to reduce email overload, quite a few organisations are turning to alternatives for internal email. Atos led the way about two years ago, although the value of the project has yet to be justified. Now others too are trying to ban all internal emails. Whether or not this will solve the problem or merely introduce another form of digital information overload remains to be seen. Click here for more about this approach to reducing corporate email overload.

 

 

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Books of Note – Summer 2016 Five Golden Oldies

Posted Monday August 1st, 2016, 8:35 pm by

Our book shelf is bulging with books collected over the last thirty years. What is interesting is how many new books are like old wine in new bottles. Few truly ground breaking books have been published in the last few years, possible exceptions being Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Instead of buying any new books over the past few months we have been re-reading some golden oldies. Here is our pick of the top five. If you have not read them, they should be on your holiday reading list.Augbooks

  1. The 7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Covey helps you understand yourself, your goals and the world within which you operate.   He provides templates and guidelines to enable you to build on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses which may be holding you back.
  2. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Christensen demonstrates how a new unforeseen technology break through can knock existing established players out of the game. Written 1997 it is still highly relevant. Witness the demise of the Blackberry when the iPhone arrived.
  3. The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams. It will keep you sane and make you laugh in these trying times when the news is all doom and gloom.
  4. The Age of Unreason by Charles Handy. First published in 1989, it remains the bible for anyone who wants to understand organisational culture, how they work and change how to flourish in the different types of culture.
  5. Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter. First published in 1980 it provides a simple but fundamental five point model to identify an organisation’s strengths and weaknesses and how they can be used to gain and maintain competitive advantage. Thirty years on it remains unsurpassed in the insight it provides into the core principle of creating organisational competitive strategy. Unless of course an unknown innovator comes along but if you read Competitive Strategy you might be able to pre-empt them.

What are your golden oldies?

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Limit the holiday email overload

Posted Friday July 29th, 2016, 12:13 pm by

Before you go on vacation, will you be apply lashing of sun tan lotion to your inbox or exposing it to the risk of going red and swelling out of proportion? Here are five easy and simple actions you can take before going on leave to limit the risk of self-induced holiday email overload.

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  1. Reduce the current inbox to as near to inbox zero as possible – see 2 and 3 below.
  2. Check for any important emails which if left unattended will be urgent when you return. If there are then either deal with them now or send a holding reply which allows you time on your return to deal with them.
  3. Move out all the remaining emails over a week old. They are past their sell by date and if they are not, rest assured, someone will re-email you.

You should just be left with emails needing attention on your return. You could be bold and move these too into a folder ‘awaiting action’. Now you have an empty inbox. How does that feel? To keep the inbox clean and de-cluttered see item 4.

  1. Set up rules to move automatically both essential and non-essential emails to folders eg newsletters, circulars, out of office messages, emails on which you are cc’d, etc. This also means that emails from key people are all in one place on your return and easy to find. Your inbox should then just contain important emails but un-planned for emails.
  2. Set a safe and simple Out of Office message. Take care not to leave the door open to prying eyes and cyber criminals. You might be bold and suggest the sender re-sends any important emails on your return as all emails will be automatically deleted. Such a practice is far more common than you think.

Now go off and relax safe in the knowledge that you have taken adequate precautions to reduce vacation (and even staycation) email overload. Maybe even have an email free vacation.

For more guidelines like these see Brilliant Email and Taking Control of Your Inbox (the latter is especially relevant for PAs and EAs who manage someone else’s inbox.

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Ban internal email – good idea but …..

Posted Wednesday July 20th, 2016, 9:15 pm by

In an attempt to reduce email overload, increasingly organisations are banning using email for internal communications.  But is this really the solution or is it a sledge hammer to crack a nut?  For some the ban is absolute and others it is on specific days.  The most high profile being Atos.   Others include Hatton Housing and Rarely Impossible ( a small Dorset-based digital media company).  Those adopting this path have turned to alternative platforms such as instant messaging, social media-based chat environments.  By and large too the companies have all been small to medium sized and based in one office.  The exception is Atos but they are developing a dedicated internal communications platform.

Digital Distractions

Responses have been mixed, some have seen a genuine improvement in people’s performance whilst others have found drawbacks.  Not least, employees are now just faced with another set of digital distraction.

There is no doubting that email overload and misuse is one of the biggest causes of stress and lower productivity, corporate email overload is often the symptom of deeper problems. Reducing email overload and generating genuine improvements in communications and performance is really about setting the right management and business culture. Then one can start to look at how email and the other multitude of social media platforms can be used.

Currently with so much uncertainty over Brexit, it is not surprising that many people’s inboxes are fuller than ever with unnecessary chatter.  It would not therefore be unexpected if more business executives jumped on the ‘ban all internal email’ band wagon.  However, without careful consideration as to what is really causing the email overload, banning all internal email might just be a step backwards.

 

 

 

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Clinton cleared after email scandal – lesson to learn

Posted Wednesday July 6th, 2016, 3:57 pm by

How often have you been tempted to use your personal email account for work-related matters? Hilary Clinton did so on at least 110 occasions and was lucky to get away with it.  Remember Michael Gove was not so lucky see Gove Gate.

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For many of us this is a violation of company security policy.  And if it is not then it should be.  Personal email accounts and devices are rarely as secure as business ones.  For example, if your company mobile device is either lost or stolen it can be immediately locked and wiped clean so that no one else can access the content.  If you share an email account others can read your emails.  Maybe you have inadvertently left your mobile device lying around and others know (or can guess) the  access password.

You may not escape unscathed.  What lessons can we learn from the Clinton email scandal to reduce the risk of email cyber crime?  Here are my top three take aways.

  1. Never be tempted to forward work emails to your personal email account.
  2. Avoid sending work-related emails from your personal account.  If needs be draft the content (in a password-protected/encrypted Word file) and send it to yourself/PA to send on the business account.
  3. Check that your company email and security policy has a clause about the use of personal email accounts for work, and what are the processes and penalties for breaking it.  Dismiss perhaps?

What’s your view on the use of personal email accounts for business?

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