The Seven Deadly Sins of Email: the abuses of electronic mail

Imagine the scenario: it’s the 1960s and you’re a busy office worker. You’ve just finished up for your two-week summer holiday at Great Yarmouth, and you’re looking forward to riding the snails at the Pleasure Beach. When you return to work, you find over 200 memos in your intray.

It wouldn’t happen…

Jump forward to today…you return from your ten-day holiday on some Greek island to 200+ emails (or you might have even spent Sunday night going through them).

How has this become acceptable?! How has email gone from a pretty geniune form of electronic correspondence to a catch-all pile of every type of information possible? And is it acceptable any more? I call on you all to repent for the seven deadly sins of email and live a virtuous, marvellous new world of email correspondance and make the best use of the other brilliant tools at our disposal for the other tasks that email has become.

Here are, what I have deemed, the seven deadly sins of email (and what you can do about them):

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PIES at your meeting

PIES. Yum. Who doesn’t like pie?

Pie

Pie

But on this occasion, I’m not talking about a tasty pastry and meat/fruit filling, oh no. I’m talking about a method of co-operative learning developed by Dr Spencer Kagan and that I learned whilst I was teaching. I recently thought that this model might be really useful to apply to modern, grown up meetings too. It works like this:

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First doesn’t = best

Sure, there are plenty of occassions when first = best…races and the like. First-past-the-post and all that.

But there are many times when first really doesn’t equal best. For me, this was most recently brought to focus when Samsung launched their Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Amid all the hype of smart watches and wearable tech, it was Samsung who brought a product to market first.

The smart watch with one-day battery life…that got there first

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Is this the best design of the 21st Century so far?

I’m a massive Apple fan and therefore a massive fan of legendary British designer, Sir Jonathan Ive .

There are so many pictures of Jony Ive, this one makes me laugh…but he is good

One of my favourite quotes from him is:

“We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable. That leave you with the sense that that’s the only possible solution that makes sense,” he explains. “Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way. We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we’re trying to order the products.

“I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care.”

Great design is design where the user instinctively knows what to do with it. It is, in Jony Ive’s words, inevitable. All design leads the user to action – whether that be to sit on a beautifully crafted chair, hit a nail with a solid hammer or move something with wheels. But how often do you, as the user, feel forgotten about? Like the product you’re using is one of millions, made impersonally, isn’t easy to use, uncomfortable, cheap, or you just have no idea what on earth you’re supposed to do as a result of this piece of design. Nasty. Poorly designed.

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Work/Life Balance isn’t about the number of hours you work…

Work/Life balance, right?

Work/Life balance, right?

Mon-Fri 9-5 sounds like a good work/life balance

I have a confession to make…I don’t work ridiculous hours. However, I did make the mistake of inferring that, because most evenings and weekends were not at work, I had a great work/life balance. I did not. It turns out that the work/life balance split is not about hours worked, but about working on work and working on life…

work_life_balance

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