Email Confusion at the Harvard Business Review

Tom Cochran, the CTO of the Atlantic has an article at the Harvard Business Review called “Email is Not Free”, where he points out that wasting time with unnecessary emails might be costing your company more soft dollars than you think. His main example is the overuse of email FYIs.

A second point is that collaboration is a valuable business process and tech savvy employees use an array of newer tools to enhance their collaborations efforts. He cites Skype, GChat, Campfire, Dropbox, Yammer, and Google Docs as examples.

Cochran concludes that email is a problem and that the solution is increased usage of collaboration tools. We certainly agree that email overuse is a problem and that collaboration tools should be used appropriately. It would have been helpful, though, to point out the different flavors of collaboration and the potential distraction and time consuming downside of collaboration tools.

However, our main objection is that his conclusion to replace email with collaboration tools where possible is misleading. Both email and collaboration software are great tools when used properly. We would conclude that in light of technological advancement, you should periodically re-evaluate your toolbox to better match the task to the tool.

(Disclosure: this article was collaborated on using Google Docs.)