An HP senior executive on internal communications.

I Find Karma (
Wed, 4 Sep 96 00:26:53 PDT

I thought the members of FoRK might enjoy this internal mail everyone at
HP got earlier this evening, in which one of the Vice Presidents tells
HP to "consider our over-use of internal communications." I guess I see
situations like "information overload" in corporations, universities,
government agencies, military, and consortia (as well as infosponge
mailing LiSTs :) getting worse in this area before they get better.

First thing that strikes me odd are these 2-3 minute voicemail messages.
As far as I'm concerned, any voicemail message over 10 seconds long is
too long.

I love the line "the ease of using electronic communication tools can
also fool us into believing we are accomplishing a great deal." I also
love the fact that the person indicates concern at getting 20 or 30
emails over the weekend. I remember about 5 years ago when I used to
get that little email. Back in those days, I could actually go through
all my email in under a half hour. Ah, the good old days...

:) Adam

> Forwarded From Tue Sep 3 20:53:51 1996

I doubt that there is a stronger supporter of the importance of internal
communications than me, and yet the ease with which we are now able to
communicate with each other has led to an environment of information
overload. Voicemail, fax, and e-mail are so easy to use that they
delude us into thinking that we are not actually expending anyone else's
time. Thus it is much simpler to provide more information than is
necessary to a large distribution of people. But the fact of the matter
is that we are all spending too much time creating, reading, and
responding to e-mail and voicemail when our time could be used much more
productively performing other activities. I am writing this to ask for
your help, since my staff and I can no longer keep up with the load, and
I suspect the same is true for many others.

The ease of using electronic communication tools can also fool us into
believing we are accomplishing a great deal. However, at the end of the
day, I often ponder what more I might have been able to accomplish had I
spent even 10 percent less time reading and/or responding to
communications that I found interesting but which were not really
essential. On many occasions, I have reduced my e-mail and voicemail to
just a few messages on a Friday night and by Sunday night, I have
received 20 or 30 more, and I know I am not unique in this.

I would like to ask that we all consider our over-use of internal
communications by remembering and following these simple guidelines when
using voicemail, fax, and e-mail:

1) Keep all messages brief and to the point. State only the necessary
points. Try to keep voicemail down to 2-3 minutes, or less. More
thought beforehand about the contents will produce brevity.

2) Don't forward messages or copy people indiscriminately just because
it's easy to do. Put yourself in the receiver's shoes. Does he/she
really have a need to know? Is there someone more appropriate to answer
your question? How is your message likely to be interpreted? What are
the consequences of NOT sending it to this person?

3) Make sure the message matches the medium; e.g., three-part voicemails
are better written, except in rare special circumstances.

I recently came across a story in relation to the usage of communication
tools. The author thought it critical to understand what an enterprise
is about and then to agree with others about what the goals are. "Only
then do the technical capabilities we celebrate begin to make sense." I
agree with those sentiments wholeheartedly and ask that you consider the
guidelines above in an effort to increase our levels of productivity
while decreasing our amount of information overload and helping to
enhance our work/life balance. I think it is something from which we
will all benefit.

Thank you for your cooperation.