Seth Godin on the “Reply All” feature of email:
It’s all the worst elements of synchronous and asynchronous discussion rolled into one. It prioritizes speed of reply over thoughtfulness, and creates a hard-to-manage non-coordinated sort of discovery and decision making.
If it’s worth taking the time of the team, it’s worth doing it in a shared doc or in real-time. Neither is as convenient, both reward thinking hard about how we want to move things forward.
When people complain about email, aside from spam and such, I think this is what they mean. Being overwhelmed by low-quality messaging. Hence all the entrepreneurship over tools that want to fight that. Agreed that document collaboration is often more productive. Disagree email itself is to blame.
The trick is not to shun email, which is clearly an incredibly valuable tool, but to use different tools for their strengths. Coordinating a complex set of tasks among a team? A document, all the way. Communicating a message to a select group? That’ll be email.