Executricks

Going analog -- what a concept!

Phone Adventure

Aren't you bored with career strategies? Don't you feel sometimes, when you're looking at business magazines or books or listening to drivel from guys who supposedly know everything, that everybody is simply reinventing the same wheel over and over again?

You're right. The problem is that business people often need to hear the same things over and over again. It's not because we're stupid. Probably.

The good thing in this case is that the story is about me. I know I'm not stupid. I mean, I think I do. And yet...

Anyway, here it is: I had a problem earlier this week closing a certain situation that required resolution so that I could sleep. It wasn't a huge thing. It was just something that I wanted done that had certain financial implications for me personally. So what did I do? I started sending e-mails.

My first e-mail went to a guy who I'd dealt with on this issue throughout the process. As happens sometimes these days, I got a message back that there was no person at the corporate e-mail address. Woooo. Spooky. Dude no longer existed. Bye bye, bro.

So I bethought myself and went down one notch on his corporate ladder, found the second person I knew in that location and e-mailed her. Nothing. That was Monday. By Tuesday, there was still nothing. I was reminded of an old song, reprised by one of my favorite groups when I was a kid. It was called Nothing. Here's how it went:

Monday nothing
Tuesday nothing
Wednesday and Thursday nothing
Friday for a change a little more nothing
Saturday and Sunday nothing

It's an existential song that pretty much summed up the matter as far as I was concerned. Last night I went to bed thinking that the entire deal was in the dumpster. It made me sad. During my 3:30 AM anxiety hour, I spent at least fifteen minutes obsessing about it before falling back asleep thanks to extreme boredom with myself.

This morning I went nuts. I did something I haven't done on this kind of situation for quite some time. I abandoned the e-mail protocol and picked up a phone. Got the woman on the third ring. Turns out she'd been sick for two days. Apologized for being very busy after that. No problemo. Everything is copacetic.

This tedious conclusion is exactly what I was seeking and I could have short-circuited the whole process if I had simply talked to the person when I first had an inkling that something was awry. Sounds idiotically simple, does it not? But do you know how many people are festering right now because their corporate culture mandates exclusive use of digital communications? He's not answering his BlackBerry! I left him six e-mails! Aieee!

I'm going to kick it up a notch from here on in. I've got a bone to pick with Fredricks, who owes me a nice little memo to remove my personal responsibility on a certain subject. I've e-mailed him about it; no response. It's easy to ignore an e-mail. I've also left him two voice mails. No reply - it's almost equally easy to duck that kind of incoming also. But it's hard to ignore a guy who's standing in your doorway, and the guy is quite literally right down the hall.

39 Comments Add Comment

Necessity frequently is lightly penciled waiting for its next faux Charles Shultz.

Bing,

As a Gen-Y'er, your analog concepts are foreign to me and I don't think they apply to all levels of business. I have spent much of my career sending emails up to oblivion. This is almost a nice cushion for me as many of my ideas/request (by default) never gets a response. I like it this way. The reason I do like this digital onslaught is simple...I take the no response as a "Go ahead and move forward" gesture. This is the better to ask forgiveness principle. If I actually had to ask for direct approval, I may get a no...and I don't like no.

I would agree with you in regards to personal issues...analog is best.

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Auto-response Re: Going Analog
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I'm sorry, but I am out of the Internet until the first of never with limited access to email, voice mail, snail mail, and even my very mind.

I will comment on your blog as soon as I return.

If you need immediate commenting, you may contact my underling: broomsweeper@wingandaprayer.com.

Thanks and have nice day!

This is a great thing, Bing, but be careful. So often I find myself attempting to communicate with people via Morse code and/or smoke signals, but to no avail. Go analog, but not too analog.

No need to be seen, it's bad enough they hear your whoosh noises, now they'll see your cape too.
Just leave the message;
I have flying monkeys and I'm not afraid to use them.

Ah, you dont know what you're talking about.

-----Message Sent from Verizon Blackberry------

Bing are you trying to reinvent one on one intercourse,,

No telling where that kinda thing could lead,,,things might get done on time,,,,answers would have to be available,,,,slack time could be interupted,,,a person would have to learn to lie with a straight face,,,a lost skill thought unnecessary since the invention of the phone/email..

Careful Bing,,, these face to face things can lead to physical contract,,,usually in the form of the Gestalt method of teaching instruction ie: a slap upside their head so they don't forget you..

I miss the phone. It used to be that if you wanted to be sure someone heard what you had to say, you had to pick up the phone and actually talk to someone.

There was no implicit guarantee that people actually read through e-mails in any sort of a timely fashion (if at all). I knew a guy who used to make his secretary print out all his emails: they replaced his computer with a plant and he didn't notice for a week. He was one of the lucky ones who retired before he had to retread.

Using the phone for everything important was a good system. It saved us all from carrying around blackberry's and massaging our ears with those plastic bricks. We could impress our friends by taking important calls on the newest, slickest flip phones. The StarTac is still cooler than the iPhone.

Using the phone also kept the chain of command in line. People have always been a lot more scared of calling the big kahuna than they are of blasting off an e-mail. That filter mechanism used to keep a lot of people from embarassing themselves.

I was always taught the 24 hour rule for professional emails. One must email back on all important emails within 24 hours. I had a boss who use to joke that I was so fast at replying that he would get a response from me before he hit the send button. Of course, I am a fast typer.

When it comes to one’s colleagues, I’ve always felt that it is acceptable to send email down the hall if I'm sending some details that the recipient will want to file away and use for reference later.

Otherwise, I feel I'm being a rather lazy, anti-social ass if I can’t be bothered to walk down the hall a few doors and have a conversation with a fellow human.

Better yet, since we’re both no doubt busy all day, set up a lunch and expense it. I've done some of my best work on bar napkins.

The whole "bar napkin/analog" thing backfired on me once, though. I had sketched out a concept for someone on a napkin, and two years later, she had a scanned image of the napkin as "project inception" in her presentation to about 500 of our management types ...

Bing,

Exceedingly surprising - and wonderful - to see your reference to the great song by The Fugs, "Nothing" That alone made my day.

Hey, Bruce, I saw them again about two years ago in the Village. They looked OLD, man. But they still had that demented genius thing going on. Of course, the highlight of the evening was Nothing, complete with its old-country refrain at the end.

I agree on this, Bing. And I applaud you for getting a live person on the phone! Not easy to do that anymore. You have to fight through the phone maze, which is exhausting. And designed to be that way. But that is another post, as I recall.

I can think of one good thing about e-mail. It forces people to think and refine their concepts, rather than just yammer in my ear. Usually. Not always, though.

Gosh, its a slice right out of my life too! I know how you feel, see, I won this prize from a nameless source. I wait by my mail box , and wait.... Hopefully someday, my little something nice will come, I am an optimist.

Btw, is that "Fredrick's of Hollywood" you had business with?

Hey, Laurel, did you ever send me your mailing info to bingblog@gmail.com?

I send my work emails with a 'read receipt required'. I don't like plausible deniability....I don't know how many times I've had some yahoo (both up the chain or down) tell me I never told them something was going to go south. It's very satisfying to produce an email that shows they read it, or deleted it without reading. And if they get recalcitrant about opening email (yeah...some like to say they could read it in the preview pane and didn't need to open the message) then I put the message inside an attachment and that means they've got to open the damn thing.

And nothing pisses me off like seeing a message opened long after it was sent. If you can't get ahold of some bozo by phone, can't find them in their office, and they check their email once every two weeks, why do we keep them employed? We've gradually shed every old style employee who argued that they were going to retire in a few years, so why do they need to acquire any computer skills? Hell, I'm older than they are. It's now entertaining to see them sleezing around the place attempting to cadge consulting positions now that their retirement golden years have evaporated.

My boss is paying me to stay on the ball, respond in a timely manner, and I expect the same of subordinates.

By the way, I well remember the days before caller ID on office phones when it was decidedly easier to talk to coworkers via phone (I don't think they even had cubicle farms that they could jet out of when the boss called).

Maybe my rant just reflects a bad day at work with what is probably the normal run of highly paid feebs, blennies, and imbeciles.

So many people miss the phone. I get it but don't at the same time. I (who has been in sales for a very long time)have come to liken the fantasy world where sales meetings should get replaced by a three line mass email. It saves time. I hate having my time wasted. It pisses me off more than anything....Almost more than over seas call centers but that's another blog.

Lately I've been thinking that smoke signals may be more effective than emails. But then again, the office will look too hazy and smell really bad. The phone reminds me of an old Sugarloaf song: "Don't call us, we call you". I don't know Bing, but "the guy at the doorway" never miss.

Mike, about read receipts...I have my work E-mail set so it prompts me that sender is requesting a read receipt, and gives me the option to either send one or not...so sometimes, depending on who the sender is, I select "do not send receipt"...and then if I really want to play games, I'll reply to the note ("how can he reply to a note he never read in the first place???")

As a small cog in a big machine, I must exploit every opportunity for pleasure, I get so little...hee hee hee...

Is Tulli still alive???

Good heads up. Analog and digital are like Rodney Dangerfield: The older they get, the less respect they get.

Let's lambaste the heck out of them while we wait for the new technology to come on the block.

In the mean the Chiropractor and the Orthopedic surgeon are cleaning up!

Robbie, we're all just cogs in the big machine...and your ability to savor whatever guilty organizational pleasures life affords you is no small gift.

Mike, more furthur to read receipts...I guess I perceive them as the sender does not trust the folks they are sending to, if this sender asks for a receipt for every single note they send...

However, if a note is sent from a person who does not usually request a receipt, I almost always send one, as my perception is this is critical and they need to know who saw it, so as to boil off the action-owner...

Nobody likes a Turd-O-Gram with a big audience and a Read Receipt requested...yuk!

Robbie, our outlook system is old and it is not possible to separately condition each email sent out (regarding read receipt) so I just leave it in default mode to require response. I tried, for awhile, to send out all my emails without the requirement, but it is amazing how the responses fell off.

I don't send out blanket emails...in fact most of our communication is face to face.

I find that the worst people to email are the older managers that associate a keyboard with typing...therefore computer use is a secretarial skill. They won't touch the thing. Some still handwrite a letter or email draft and hand it to a secretary for entry into a computer. Having seen the raw product I know some are just unable to write, and the secretaries have been crafting intelligible text out of their scribbles for years. Some of these guys can barely read, but they do look good in suits, sitting at a board table, staring unctuously at the boss.

In some cases it would have been far more productive to just give the manager's job to the secretary. Often they're better educated, always work much harder, and generally care a lot more about the organization.

A final tip; if you haven't learned by now, the senior administrative assistants/secretaries really run the organization, and must be treated with extreme respect....they many times outlast even the biggest bosses, and will be the only one who can vouch for your value when the new big boss and his new set of duckling bosses come in.

Mike, did you know that if you use the word "secretary" in my corporation, you will be tied to a post and whipped with interoffice correspondence?

Bing, we're less politically correct here in Spokane (300 miles east of the land of Microsoft), but you're correct...the term reveals my age. Even here it is fading from respectable use, though in many firms it is still the official job title.

You can also check for use of the words: Policeman (Police Officer), Fireman (Firefighter), Waitress (Server), and of course the most heinous sin of all, Stewardess (Flight Attendant).

After trying to keep control of their beverage carts during the preemptive 'buzzing the landing strip to shoo the cows off' approach to Spokane 'International' Airport, the Flight Attendants don't much worry about job titles.

Call em what you want, be politically correct if you must; but a Rookie/Joe Boy or Gopher still pays the same...Geee Boss...don't give me a fancy title or more respect or a window seat,,just give me more MONEY..

Where is George Carlin when you
need him???

We live in a world of make believe,,but no matter how much bull you shovel my way you aren't gonna make me believe..

Since when did a cup of coffee become,,el late grande duppo..
swill is still swill even in a fancy cup..

Jack, I'd agree that much of this PC job title stuff is indeed used as a substitute for increased pay for increased responsibilities.

You must be retired, or self-employed....if you worked for an outfit of some size, uttering a non-PC word could, at best, get you enrolled in some serious corporate sensitivity training, or terminated (in the case of a repeat transgression or especially egregious slip of the tongue).

Corporations don't do this out of a sense of justice (it's amusing to see employees totally miss this distinction); they do it out of fear of litigation...documenting that the organization did its lawful duty enables it to cut you loose to pay for your own defense. I've seen employees successfully sue for some amazingly minor perceived slights.

Maybe it's more sensible in Canada. In the US the claimant's attorney is not restricted to a percentage of any award...if they win (even by a hair) their client could easily get a pittance and the attorney recover very substantial fees....after a few years in the lawsuit pipeline they really mount up! Of course, it's a system built by, and for, attorneys.

As life unfolds for us in the new millinium, we seem more and more to find ourselves victims of "pushers".

One can hardly name an industry, profession, entertainment, service, religion, or dealers, etc. that don't use coersion, intimidation, and restrictions to corral us into a submissive state.

Bottom line: If you wanna play--you must pay!

I seldom use the telephone and usually only use it when I have to have an answer right away. I'm typically so busy that I use email because I send out four email to four different people and then do the other stuf on my desk while I wait for the response. I think a lot of other people are the same way. Email gets used because you can park an email message for when you have a free moment. Likewise if I make those four phone calls right away that's about a half hour of my day gone and if it requires getting the information to someone else it takes even longer. The short of it is that in order to use the phone to do my job I need to work overtime on top of my regular weekly overtime. I doubt I could do my job if I had to use the personal touch. And we aren't going to hire additional staff to do what I can't. It's the double edged sword of technology.

Mike you are right about me on a couple of points.

I would not fit in an environment of cheesey office politics, I pride myself on being able to accept and get along with anybody, I don't like gossip and prefer to make up my own mind on people and issues.

I do expect people to be accountable and preform in their respective fields. Slackers and whinners are low on my list as are those that constantly seek to climb up by stepping on other people.

One thing to remmber and one thing to live by:

Your reputation gets there before you do.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As for Lawyers: a notable friend of mine received a bill from a well known attorney, my friend wiped his butt with it and mailed it back to the lawyer marked personal,,,never heard from the lawyer again. Would have made an interesting piece of evidence in court.

"After trying to keep control of their beverage carts during the preemptive ‘buzzing the landing strip to shoo the cows off’ approach to Spokane ‘International’ Airport, the Flight Attendants don’t much worry about job titles."

Mike, thank you for the mirthful chortle...ha!

And thanks for your feedback...I think we both learned something...those who do not know or speak or work within the binary landscape could be doomed by it...and those who speak exclusivly from this landscape may be doomed as well...peace...

going analog, gosh at ama loss for words. there was a time when my computer had a 10 gig harddrive and 64 mb of ram those days are just long gone and in just a few short years, yet it feels so long ago.

as far as human contact goes its fine for my close circle of friends and family, but when it comes to business the less I see of people doesnt really make a difference to me. i guess im just confused about needing things at a moments notice. oh well to each his own i guess.

I once had a very psychotic boss. She needed some detail, so I e-mailed the person with the detail. When they didn't respond in two minutes, she said I should have called them. The next time the same situation came up, I called. When I left a voice mail, she said I should have e-mailed. Whatever. I figured it didn't matter how I got there, just so I got there. But not in her psychotic world, which I never fully understood anyway. I'm so grateful she's a former boss.

So, I got this corporate phone a few years ago. The only thing I do on it is check email. I would rather type 20 email messages than take one phone call. I just don't have the time to waste on folks who can't seem to speak and think at the same time.
I am the old boomer who should be analog. One thing that does bug me is that many people can't put together logical writing so they will call and talk endlessly about silly things. They reverse themselves several times and then after 20 minutes on the phone will come to some conclusion. Hello, did I really need to hear someone talk that long so they can make up their minds on some trivial issue? Jesh, why am I working for them?

I do not like Bing how Do i get it out of my computer?

Keep reading my blog, Anonymous. Then you'll have the right Bing for your buck.

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