May 21, 2015 by Nathan Paul
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?
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
Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?
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.
May 12, 2015 by Nathan Paul
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.
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!
By Arcanev [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)], via DeviantART.
May 7, 2015 by Nathan Paul
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:
How 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).
Wow. This is the kind of experience eProductivity was designed for. Thanks, Michael, for sharing your story!
May 6, 2015 by Eric Mack
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.
In 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" »
May 4, 2015 by Eric Mack
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:
"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 spirit
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.
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!
*For the younger crowd: 1 kilobyte is about 1/16,000,000 of the memory of a standard iPhone 6.
"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
April 24, 2015 by Eric Mack
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" »
April 13, 2015 by Nathan Paul
Here are a couple I'd like to point out:
- If you really need a report (or anything else) ASAP, email is probably not the best way to ask (especially if your reader is getting hundreds of emails a day)
- Only use "Reply All" if every single person in the conversation needs to know what you're saying
Yes, Tripp & Tyler are right that people use email for the wrong things. But that doesn't make it a bad tool. Like we've said before, email is not the problem: how people use it is the problem.
Would this be a bad time to repeat that you can get our Top 10 Email Tips by following this blog? These are completely, 100% guaranteed to make everyone want to respond to every one of your emails, all the time.*
*Unless they don't feel like it, or yours is the 180th email they've received today, or they're in a meeting, in which case the full faith of this absolute guarantee is annulled, abrogated, eliminated, invalidated, abolished, expunged, undone, and annihilated. The tips are still good, though, and with them you're still more likely to get a response than without. And they're free!