My absolute hatred of email is very well known amongst my coworkers. Everyone knows the problems, right?
You can’t always gauge the intent of the email. Too short? How rude. Too long? Too confusing. And don’t even attempt sarcasm with or without some stupid emoji. You’re always just going to come off as an asshole.
Yes, I use email and I have run into all of these problems and more, like the time I sent that really cheesy email intended for my wife to a client … Yeah, that happened.
But, this is not about email etiquette. This is about how email is completely killing communication and, in my case, creativity.
Don Draper didn’t have email.
For those of you who watched Mad Men, you undoubtedly loved the scenes where Don Draper (Creative Director extraordinaire) would pitch the client his masterful concepts.
Could you imagine if he had to attach a PDF to an email and then typed his vision? Could he convey the passion of the ad, the power behind the messaging the excruciating processes his creative team went through to create that ad?
Even if he were the best email composer of all time, the answer is no. And neither can I.
Now imagine this.
You are in charge of developing a 30-second commercial and your plan is to create more emotion than the ending of The Notebook … Yeah, I watched that too.
You agonize over every shot, every second, every note of wonderfully composed music and then your email chimes in with the following …
Ugh, I just died a little inside.
Without collaboration, it’s never going to work. I want to sit down with the writer, the editor and hash this out – get our fingers soaked with red ink and hear that song so many times it haunts me in my sleep.
Through that collaboration and communication, you get creativity.
OK, so maybe that’s too specific. I know not everyone reading this is creating tear-jerking commercials. So, try this.
The next time you and your coworkers are tasked with a project, hopefully one with some sort of creativity required, try to do it only through email. Then try getting everyone together for a one-hour meeting about the same thing. Let me know which ideas you like better.
You will get twice as much done in that one hour as opposed to the three days of back-and-forth short email snippets that come off as rude and snarky and just piss everyone off.
Email is a graveyard for good ideas.
How many potentially brilliant thoughts have died because someone ended an email with “Thoughts?” or “Just something to keep in mind”?
I can almost guarantee information or ideas like that will earn no follow up, no further discussion. And yet another idea will bite the dust.
I see it happen all the time, maybe even every day. Because email is indeed an excellent tool for busy people who simply don’t have time to chat with everyone throughout the day, but still need to get information to and from them. But, busy people with inboxes that look like mine will move on to the next message and forget.
Don’t ask for my thoughts. Step into my office, and share yours with me. I’ll do the same. Those ideas will not only live, they could turn into something awesome.
Look, I know everyone has a different “it.” For me, it’s the creative process. That’s my job.
But, apply a no-email policy to your process, whatever “it” is, and I promise you’ll get a lot more out of it.
It can’t be done unless there is communication and collaboration.
Alright, you’ve spent enough time reading this. Better go check your email. But, while you’re scanning, keep an eye out for good ideas and get off your ass should you land on one.