There was a saying in my business school: “If you cannot get your job done in 8 hours you are not qualified to do it”. Funny. Yet there may be some truth to that statement.
Increasingly we are interdependent in our ability to complete tasks and produce results. At the same time the tools managers use for personal and business productivity lag behind the times. Forget David Allen’s suggested Empty Inbox – the average manager may have hundreds or even thousands unopened emails in their Inbox.
While we may get increasingly behind in our own workload and tasks and are barely able to juggle even the most important tasks, the downstream effect can be devastating in organizations. A silent killer of sorts. The unprocessed emails cause other teams depending on the email responses to either re-process (resend) the email or put their tasks on hold. This again causes downstream activities to be reprocessed or put on a forced hold, until this chain reaction finally impacts the customer. Then commitments get skirted, renegotiated, orders get lost or prices get discounted to appease customers.
One way or another the organization suffers. It is a silent killer because it almost never gets measured. Cypress Semiconductor decades ago developed what they then called the Killer Software to manage exactly this: the commitments people make to each other and measure what they do or do not deliver.
The (LEAN) world would do very well by re-reading Cypress founder TJ Rodger’s original high performance vision in his 1993 classic, No Excuses Management. Maybe there is hope in clearing that email and organizational backlog and with that all that waste, reprocessing and frustration stuck emails can cause.