IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse

Most of the people who've asked us about the future of eProductivity with Verse have been from IBM.

In response to this, I decided to reach out to IBMers to find out three things:
1.        What's eProductivity done for you?
2.        What would happen if you lost eProductivity?
3.        What do you think about switching to Verse?

I gave people these questions as suggestions (not requirements) for what to write about:

- How did you learn about eProductivity?
- What problem/pain you were trying to solve by using eProductivity?
- How long have you used eProductivity and how did it work for you?
- What were your favorite features?
- What impact has eProductivity had for you?
- If you were to lose eProductivity, how would it affect you?

I've received many responses; below are a few I've selected to share (and I may add more).

Disclaimer:

The below-named persons wish to make it known that their opinions, endorsements, testimonials, judgments, words, and statements of fact and value reflect only their individual views and apply solely to eProductivity, and do not reflect any opinion or judgment on IBM Verse or any other product, whether on their part or IBM's. All comments below are shared by permission of their respective authors.

That said . . .

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and VerseNot having eProductivity will be a disaster for me.

I learned about eProductivity through David Allen and GTD and tried it out on several iPhone apps. They all lacked the very tight integration between mail and GTD that eProductivity provides, and since corporate policy is that no data can reside outside the firewall, eProductivity is the only tool that can comply.  

My favorite features are: linking mails to projects; the Today view, and the Weekly Review Coach.

The impact on my job is simple: eProductivity keeps my mailbox at a manageable level and I'm in control of my todo's and forthcoming actions, which means I'm on top of my business.

I seriously hope you will consider making eProductivity for Verse!Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse

Torben Linér
Project Executive
IBM Denmark


Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and VerseI have found eProductivity essential to clearing my head on my priorities for each week, especially when things are very pressured and all of us have more to do than we can in the time available.

. . . I think eProductivity does a good job, considering it is an add-on above the basic Notes layer. Having invested the time and money in getting my projects and tasks set up, I would be reluctant to sacrifice that, so I would hope (and expect) that you guys provide some roadmap with the introduction of Verse.Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse

Doug Stapleton
Executive IT Architect
IBM Australia


Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and VerseI was trying for years to find a system that would help me work on the right thing at the right time. I have been using eProductivity for two years, and it works excellently for me. Every action is recorded immediately; nothings getting lost anymore. Emails can be easily put into actions with the right categorisation.

It helped me (and still helps me) enormously to get everything done as quick as possible and keep my brain free. I know that every action that is coming into my mind is recorded and getting done soon. My productivity level has increased significantly. Over the last two years I completed 3000 actions. My Lotus Notes Mail In-box is always empty. eProductivity is a treasure for me!Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse
                               
Franz Schroettner
IBM Austria


Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and VerseFor me, losing eProductivity would be catastrophic. I haven't tested Verse yet, but the increase in productivity I've had with eProductivity has been exponential during the last months I've been using it.

My full support on you adapting to Verse.Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse

Julio Sánchez Cubas
Executive Architect
IBM of Spain

*UPDATE* I've recently received this feedback as well:

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and VerseI learned about eProductivity while searching for info on GTD suggestions and implementation.  I've just started using it, and I find it a useful tool to improve my inbox handling.  It's encouraged me to get my inbox much closer to zero than ever before, and I'm still working through it.

GTD [David Allen's Getting Things Done] can be done in Notes, but I like having projects and next actions more clearly integrated.

In Verse, I suspect I'll have to do more things manually than with eProductivity
.Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse

Jerry Quinn
Senior Software Engineer
IBM

(emphasis added)

*UDATE 5/28* I just received this today:

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and VerseI think I heard about eProductivity from an internal group here in IBM.  At that time, I was already using David Allen's "Getting Things Done" and looking for ways to integrate that into my working tools.

I've been using eProductivity for about six years. It works pretty well. I have tweaked a couple of things, like adding a Next Actions view (you really need this!) to show Next Actions (and "orphan" actions that aren't attached to a project). The best thing is the ease of turning email into projects and actions.

eProductivity is how I manage my to-do list. To be honest, when I switch to Verse, I don't know what the impact will be. The ability to mark a mail as "Needs Action" is useful, but this feature clearly does not have the full action-management capability that eProductivity givesImage:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and Verse .

Dr. Keith Collyer
Rational Expert, Requirements
Medical Device and Electronic Design Solution Offering Lead
IBM Internet of Things Engineering Solutions


I'll just let those speak for themselves.

Based on all the marketing materials, Verse looks great -- but I've yet to see any user-generated content showing how someone uses it to get things done. I'm hoping we can help make Verse productive for people who use it.


More on Verse:
Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?
IBM Verse: The challenge and opportunity

More IBMer feedback:
This fantastic story from Michael Cheatham of IBM US.

IBM Verse: the challenge and opportunity

Verse has been the subject of a bit of discussion around here lately—understandably, since IBM will undoubtedly try to push all their customers to move onto their shiny new product.

For me, the big question about Verse is: how well it will enable personal productivity?

Collaboration/social/analytics are neat and slick and fun and all that, but I have to echo Eric Mack in saying that, at the end of the day, work—as in, the actual getting done of things by people—is inherently personal and individual. And I "have" to say that not because I work here, but because, based on my experience, I can't reasonably say anything else.

A closely-related question is: can we make eProductivity work with Verse?—create a "vProductivity," if you will?

20150521 - vProductivity.jpg

Our mission has always been to enable individuals to get things done. We've accomplished this by bringing the "Getting Things Done" method—a truly radical "new way to work"—to benighted Notes users at many, many workplaces around the world.

That's why I still have two questions for Verse: A) how well will it help people be productive? and B) can we improve this?

Ultimately, our interest in Verse will be driven by the marketplace—good ol' supply and demand. At the present, although I'm hearing from many passionate eProductivity users asking about our plans for Verse, most of them are IBMers who will have no choice about switching to Verse (in fact, I'm planning to reach out to IBMers to ask what eProductivity's done for them and how it would affect them to lose it). In other words, when it comes to Verse, we've yet to see a significant, public, collective cry of "I want that!"

We'll keep developing eProductivity and other solutions, and we'll keep our commitment to the Notes marketplace and Notes users. People at over a thousand organizations use eProductivity every day to get things done, and we'll keep serving them. We've been using Notes for over 22 years, and we've seen many other solutions come and go in that time. While I realize things are shifting toward mobile and cloud, I also know that many, many people continue to rely on their Notes client to do their work.

Got questions, comments, concerns, queries, etc.? Email or contact my team and me at:
Our "Contact Us" page
Twitter (#vProductivity)
Facebook


See also:
Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?


Image credits:
Laptop with coffee mug image by CQuadraNet [CC0 Public Domain (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)], via Pixabay (http://pixabay.com/en/computer-laptop-workplace-mac-416569/). Modified with permission.

Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?

I've been getting this question more and more lately. The short answer is: not without your help.

To make eProductivity for Verse a reality, IBM would need to either A) provide "hooks" in Verse to allow eProductivity functionality to be developed for Verse, or B) license eProductivity for direct inclusion in Verse, thus making Verse "GTD Enabled."

IBM has proven they understand the value of what GTD and eProductivity can deliver to their customers [see here], so this wouldn't be a huge stretch for them.

The long answer is this:

IBM Verse has been touted as a new way to work [source]. From what I've seen so far, it is (at present) a shiny webmail client that appears to be a subset of iNotes.

Shiny blue cursor smaller.jpg
Shiny!

It remains to be seen how Verse is actually going to make people more productive, less stressed, and better equipped to handle our always-on world.

In short, I have yet to see how Verse is actually a new way to work.

On the other hand, users of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) method have been experiencing a really new, proven, revolutionary way to work since 2001. eProductivity has been bringing GTD's new way to work to IBM software for a decade (in fact, our CEO just wrote on this very topic the other day).

Because eProductivity has changed how so many people work, my team and I have been asked more and more whether it will work with Verse, much like it currently works with other IBM software. I would love to be able to say yes.

Our vision for a really new way to work

If my team and I could work our will in the professional world, we'd make sure that everyone, from overloaded executives on down, could easily:
  • Empty their inbox as often as needed
  • Maintain a clear view of everything requiring their attention, no matter how often it changes
  • Know what's most important to do in the moment based on their priority criteria in the moment
  • Keep track of their projects to ensure they're all moving forward

This is what GTD and eProductivity have actually enabled for many, many people around the world for over 15 years. How new would that be for your work?

On the other hand, Verse claims to deliver all of this, but from what we've seen so far, it doesn't.

How you can help

What about the people whose productivity is about to plummet? I mean eProductivity users who've heard they'll be switched to Verse (mostly concerned IBMers).

I've been having conversations with these people (especially IBMers). They're helping me understand eProductivity's value to them and what "eProductive" features they'd like to see in Verse.

I'd love to hear from you too, especially if you're:
  • concerned about losing eProductivity to Verse
  • eager to give your input on what features you'd like to see in Verse

Feel free to email me at NPaul[at]eProductivity.com!

Image credit:
By Arcanev [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)], via DeviantART.
Over the last few weeks, I've been corresponding with Michael Cheatham of IBM Global Business Services, who's used eProductivity for the past three years. He seemed very satisfied with our product and service, so I gave him a few questions as prompts and asked whether he'd be willing to share his feedback, even if only a sentence or two.

I often ask for feedback from people who enjoy eProductivity. Sometimes I don't hear back, which I understand — our customers are usually very busy professionals. Other times, I'll get a nice, short comment.

But every once in a while, someone goes all out and blows me away. That's what Michael did the other day. He chose to answer the prompts I provided, so here's his complete eProductivity story, in his own words:

Image:I got this fantastic eProductivity story yesterdayHow did you learn about eProductivity?
Before joining IBM, I used MS Outlook as my email and calendaring system. I read David Allen's book, Getting Things Done, and while searching for more information on the topic, I found a Getting Things Done (GTD) plugin for Outlook.

The GTD plugin helped me to manage my in-box and greatly increased my productivity . . . Once I joined IBM, I found out that the email and calendaring system used was Lotus Notes, so I did a web search for a GTD plugin for LN. Instead I found eProductivity, which offered much more functionality that the Outlook GTD plugin, and so I ordered the application.

I started with a trial of the stand-alone version, but by the end of the trial I was convinced that the tool would provide a lot of value, and I ordered the full integrated version of eProductivity.

What problem or pain you were trying to solve by using eProductivity?
 
My problem was that I received 50 to 100 emails per day, some of them important and some of them not. Of those that are important, some I can act on immediately, some I need information from others, and for some, I have to schedule time to action them.

In regular Lotus Notes, the most I could do was set up rules to action certain emails as they came in, but that was not sufficient for me to stay on top of everything that needed to get done.

How long have you used eProductivity and how did it work for you?
 
I have now been using eProductivity for almost three years. When I first installed eProductivity, I had approximately 700 emails in my in-box.

Through using eProductivity and setting up some rules in Lotus Notes, I was able to get this down to literally zero. I now rarely have more than 6-10 emails in my in-box, and I am almost always able to end the day with none

. . . this is not just a matter of deleting all my emails as the come in: I am also able to uncover what needs to be worked on immediately, and I am able to schedule (with reminders) work that is necessary but cannot be completed when the email comes in. I am also able to view, in a simple and intuitive way, all of the actions I need to take and the individuals that I waiting to provide me with information.

What were your favorite features?

My favorite feature is the ability to copy an email into an action and delete the email or move it to another folder. For emails that contain all of the information I need in the email itself, I delete them and copy them into an action with a reminder date. If I need more information, eProductivity allows me to format the action in a way that it organizes all of the information I am waiting for under the individual's name. I can also copy the email into a meeting invite or an appointment if I need to schedule it for a later time.

What impact did eProductivity have for you?

With eProductivity, I feel that I am always on top of my emails, actions, requests for information, and calendar. As mentioned above, my in-box is almost always at zero, while at the same time I know I have every required action covered that was initiated by an email.

It allows me to feel like I am in control of my time.

(The views and opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer).Image:I got this fantastic eProductivity story yesterday


Wow. This is the kind of experience eProductivity was designed for. Thanks, Michael, for sharing your story! Robot hand I.eP.jpgI really enjoy consulting and coaching executives and other professionals, because it allows me to make a difference in the lives of others. There's nothing like that moment when their eyes widen and they say "I get it!" or "That's cool!"

I also get to experience this same thing with students in my Intro to Robotics course. This course isn't just a bunch of computer science geeks doing geeky things: I use it to prepare my students to work well, both in their personal and professional lives, by teaching them essential life skills.

I know teaching life skills through robotics sounds far-fetched, so I'm going to prove it below.

Robotics life lessons thumbnail.jpgIn this course, one of the exercises I teach is the After-Action Review. This consists of five questions:
1.        What was supposed to happen?
2.        What actually happened?
3.        Why did it happen?
4.        What did we learn?
5.        How can we do better next time?

On Monday, as I lead them through an After-Action Review, I wrote the answers to the final question on the board (as you can see on the left). The action under review was the students' preparation for their final in-class competition (which involved designing and building a robot in teams), but the answers they came up with also translate to work and life in general.

Note that these are not in order of importance or priority. They're all lessons learned. Here's what my students had to sayplus applies to best practices for life:

Continue Reading: "Best Practices for Robotics Competitions, Work, and Life in General" »

My first paid consulting job convinced me that technology would solve all our problems. Over 30 years ago, I was writing flight-planning programs with a 1-kilobyte* programmable calculator, and it was incredible: calculations that took hours by hand were done in a few minutes.

What I didn't see then was the whole picture. Technology is (and always has been) only part of the equation. My client and I had to put our knowledge together: his knowledge of the math needed for flight-planning, and my knowledge of how to write that into a program.

What I've discovered is that machines can never do our thinking for us – even though advertisers have been claiming they can for decades. Exhibit A:

Want to buy a brain - old computer ad cropped, smaller.jpg

"Its vacuum tubes will make up your mind for you far faster than your gray matter can." Somehow I'm reminded of modern ads claiming that technology can decide what's important to you.

What I found out
During my graduate research on how people work. I saw that even people with the best technology could work very ineffectively. At the same time, some people could use outdated equipment – even as simple as pen and paper – and create great value for their organization. Obviously, technology alone didn't make people better workers.

It became clear that technology is useless if people don't know how to work with it – and more importantly, use it to work together.

Based on my experience and research, I came up with this equation as a model for the effectiveness of individuals and teams:

Value (V) = Knowledge (K) x Methodology (M) x Technology (T)

Technology is literally only part of the equation. There are two other factors:

  • Methodology: the habits, rules, and practices that people follow to get work done. In other words, how people work.
  • Knowledge: what you know, who you know, and what they know

Let me go back to the flight-planning example:

  • K = my client's knowledge of the mathematics needed for flight-planning
  • M = my process for translating that math into programs
  • T = the 1-kilobyte programmable calculator

Without all three, our operation wouldn't have worked and I would've been out of a job.

A kindred spiritMark Mortensen headshot.jpg
I was delighted to come across a very insightful article that Mark Mortensen of INSEAD recently wrote for the Harvard Business Review: "Technology Alone Won't Solve Our Collaboration Problems." He emphasizes "a simple truth: it’s not what technology you’ve got, but how you use it" and includes three specific examples of how to work more effectively with today's technology.

I'm glad to find someone who recognizes "it’s less important which technology you choose and more important that you align it with how people do work." Mortensen acknowledges the importance of method and knowledge as well as technology. See here for his article.

Technology Alone Wont Solve Our Collaboration Problems.jpg

Three factors to success
The interaction of knowledge, methodology, and technology is critical to any organization's success and the value of any individual's work. This is what I've brought to my consulting clients over my decades in the field, and I've clearly seen the results: it works.

To share your thoughts on this topic, connect with me on social media (below). When you're ready discuss how I can help you and your organization manage the balance of KMT, click "Contact" in the upper-right. I'd love to chat!

Best,

Eric

@EricMack
LI: Eric Mack



*For the younger crowd: 1 kilobyte is about 1/16,000,000 of the memory of a standard iPhone 6.

Image credit:
"Buy a Brain" image by DigiBarn [CC BY-NC 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/)]. Changes made: image rotated clockwise 1 degree; article text cropped out; additional border coloring added. Scanned by DigiBarn from Popular Science, May 1949. Link to original image: http://www.digibarn.com/collections/mags/popsci-may-1949/brain1.jpg

Getting back from vacation: how to recover

Image:Getting back from vacation: how to recover

A friend sent me the following message the other day:

I’m drowning from re-entry from a 2 week vacation.

Do I prioritize the work I deferred prior to leaving or do I focus time on processing the 1500+ emails I received while I was away?

Do today’s new inputs (e-mails, texts, and voicemails) take precedence over these two other sources of tasks?

Any guidance would be super!

Where to begin?

This can all be tackled and taken care of -- with the right method. David Allen has a fantastic method for taking this overwhelming amount of stuff and converting it into manageable actions. I say this because I've used this approach for more than 20 years, and it works.

I gave my friend the five steps from David's bestseller, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity:

Continue Reading: "Getting back from vacation: how to recover" »

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