GroupWare & Learning Orgs LO11565
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 02:14:05 -0500

Was Information Access and Flow. . .I changed the subject. . .

Rol says that he gets 50-60 E-Mail (excluding mail from this list), which
makes it difficult to use it as a learning tool. I'll offer a few
suggestions from a little bit of experience.

E-Mail can be a powerful learning tool if you have the right product. The
following features, I believe, are the minimum for a corporate E-Mail

1- Rules
2- Folders
3- Threaded messages

Features that make it a really powerful tool include:

1- Shared folders
2- Document management (including imaging)
3- Workflow (often integrated with doc mgmg & imaging)
4- Calendaring & Task Management
5- FAX integration (in-bound and out-bound FAX capabilities)
6- Voice mail integration
7- Pager integration

For the basic stuff:

RULES and FOLDERS work together to provide the tools you need to
effectively organize all incoming mail. Not all E-Mail is of equal value,
and its pretty easy to determine which of all the E-Mail deserves your
attention first. The criteria will differ for everyone, but typical
criteria include the sender, topic, and priority. Many organizations have
created "topic" standards to be used on the SUBJECT line, making it easy
for a RULE to move incoming messages to the right FOLDER.

Which brings me to what a RULE and a FOLDER does. A RULE is an IF. . .THEN
construct that allows you to specify how your E-Mail should be stored and
organized in your IN BOX. For instance, I have a RULE that says:

IF {the sender is LEARNING-ORG} THEN {move mail to the NEW-LO FOLDER}

I also have a FOLDER called "KEEP-LO" which I move mail to that I would
like to keep. I may also store a copy in my document management system
where it can be indexed, allowing me to do a full-text search with binary
operators (AND, OR, NOT, etc.) so I can get what I want anytime.

I also have a rule that says

IF {the sender is SO AND SO} THEN {delete and purge the message}

Because SO AND SO always sends me fluffy stuff. I have a FOLDER for all
the E-Mail I get from my VP, and a RULE that automatically puts his E-Mail
into that FOLDER for me. I also have a FOLDER called "DIALOGUE" where I
keep on-going conversations with colleauges. I have a FOLDER called "VOICE
MAIL" because all my voice mail comes directly to my E-Mail (and, of
course, a RULE to put that voice mail in the right folder). I also have a
RULE that forwards all HIGH PRIORITY mail to my pager; and, finally, I
have a RULE that pages me 10 minutes before a meeting.

This leads me threaded messages. E-Mail is a powerful tool for dialogue.
It allows us to keep a history of our thinking, which provides an
immediate method for reflection. At the same time, it allows us to "think"
about what were saying before we say it. Sometimes we get into
conversations that literally last weeks or months. The ability to "thread"
these messages is very important, as it helps clarify the "order" in which
they were received, the relationship between everyone's ideas, and a
history of how the ideas "evolved." This is a powerful learning tool, when
combined with RULES and FOLDERS.

This is a small beginning to a much larger topic. I think it's clear,
however, that E-Mail -- or better, GroupWare -- can be a powerful tool in
creating a learning environment.

[Host's Note: How are these facilities available to everyman on the net?
Rules and Folders are available in Eudora Pro. Other email packages? But,
I don't know where to find threaded messages, except where it is specially
provided, for example in the Learning-org web pages, in a Notes
discussion database, etc. ...Rick]


Benjamin B. Compton

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>