“A Poor workman always blames his tools”. (RIP Bill Perry)

I responded to a tweet the other day which had the headline “kill email”. I get the sentiment and I know the writer so therefore I imagine it was being provocative to get us to think about the impact of email and how much its made us lazy and avoiding dialogue with others.

I admit to being a fan of email. I could not survive as a worker in a shed without email to help me engage with others, to share documents, and to share clippings and usual information as a natural collaborator.

When I saw the tweet that said “kill email”, I responded “like all tools, its not the tool but the behaviour that has to change”. This comment got me  a few retweets so I concluded that others were in disagreement.

It was my father that often said “a poor workman who always blames his tools”, and as I write I have reflected on his generation. Sadly he died a couple of years ago, but he did national service at the end of the war and carried out peace keeping in Italy and Palestine, and as a Coldstream Guard stood outside Buckingham Palace. I imagine that generation endured some hardship, and as a result had a “make do” attitude. Accepting what little they had and made the best of it. Probably no switching fancy phones or apps like the wind.

My background is in Production Engineering. An apprenticeship followed by sponsorship to do a degree. Possibly my nature, I questioned everything and quickly I got a sense of waste in the workplace. I saw numerous practices that people did not question or challenge either through ignorance or just simply settling for a simple life, or those above “know best” so you did not question it. All the way through my career in engineering and production management I have seen and experienced poor processes, and functional practises that have no connection to what the customer really wants, and as a result we go off in search of the new tool or system to automate and speed up the processing.

Of course the flaw, like most systems its the garbage we put in it, or we keep on putting in. Just like the over used quote “if we always do, what we always did, then we always get what we always got”.

Email has issues. But in the large, its not email thats the problem but the behaviours that people use. People hide behind it, sending an email believing that constitutes action, over use and mis use of CC, and sometimes a call would make much more sense. I know that twitter and even Instagram has removed some of the need for email, because it is after all the connections that matter.

So in memory of my Dad, lets not blame the tools, lets do better work!


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