Post-YamJam12 Email Reduction Exercise

I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming since YamJam…lots of ideas tumbling around in my noggin about how a Yammer network can be energized. Here’s one I came up with and proposed internally that drew the sound of crickets. I still think it’s a good idea, so please tell me why it’s not.

You may have heard of No-Email-Fridays, when people shut down Outlook for the day and refrain from sending or receiving emails. That idea has always intrigued me, but I realized that there are two big problems with it. First of all, it doesn’t really stop you from using Email (The Missus coined the phrase “Stale-Mail”, which I really like), it just changes when you use it. You’ll more than likely set up an auto-response the night before letting anyone who contacts you know what you’re doing, which actually adds messages to the mix, and then spend Saturday or Monday responding to the messages you would have normally responded to on Friday.

What have you actually achieved there?

Secondly, you’re going to annoy everyone who isn’t playing along. The people who get the auto-response explaining what you’re doing will likely think it’s ridiculous, and if you don’t set up the auto-response you are going to be ignoring people. People tend to dislike being ignored.

But what if you entered into mutual “blacklist” agreements with people who understand the need to reduce emails? It’s pretty simple–you simply agree to stop emailing each other. You can call, you can use a tool like Yammer, you can Skype…whatever.

But no emails.

To gamify it, you could implement a rule that anyone who slips up and sends an email has to donate $1 to charity or buy the other person a cup of coffee. The penalty phase of this could get really fun and creative.

I think this would be an easy way to immediately reduce email. So easy in fact, I thought up a wrinkle to make it challenging. What if you were required to recruit one more participant in this program every week or month? It would require some evangelism, but I think it would be worth it.

Shoot holes in this idea for me please.

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