My 30-Day Detach: 100% #AttachmentFree

no attachments evahhh

For the next 30 days, I’m going on a diet: I will deprive myself of email attachments entirely.  We can call it the 30-Day Detach.

Email attachments are the worst. The worst! They are not far behind fax machines in terms of value.  Sure, they were a neat feature in the year 1998, but we are so much better than that now – we’re so much better at collaborating online, now – that it’s time to move on.

What are you talking about:  I, Becky Webster, will be 100% attachment free for 30 days straight.  If all goes well, that streak may indeed continue, but in case something goes unexpectedly awry I’m going to publicly commit to a campaign of 30 days.

Why do you hate attachments/Freedom:  Because attachments are like loose-leaf pieces of paper that we xerox, hand out to each other, scribble on, fax to a bunch of people, get innumerable versions back, have a hard time keeping track of, and generally just cause  unnecessary chaos. They’re complete time wasters – especially given our options in today’s gifts of collaborative technology – and this madness must end.  I’ve tried thinking of a legitimate use case for sending an attachment, but I haven’t found any yet. None.

How on earth will you accomplish this:  Luckily, there is only one rule I need to follow and it’s quite simple:

I cannot send any attachment via email – personal or work – ever.  If anyone gets an email with an attachment from me, I start over at day 0. 

The only exception I’ll make are email signature logos, which would be a waste of time to manage in this way. I’ll do my best to remove them, but for the most part I’m not going to worry about them. [Incidentally, if you have graphics or logos in your email signatures and have the option of removing them, you probably should.  They translate as attachments which is misleading, makes it hard to find emails with actual attachments, and gives my thumb too much work to do when I’m reading on my phone. 8^) ]

How on earth will you accomplish this part deux:

  • “But, how will you send documents to other people? 
    • I’ll use one of my nifty tools like Google Drive and/or Salesforce Chatter and/or Salesforce CRM Content to send my documents. I’ll do this by uploading the documents to one of these environments, generate a unique URL address for the document, and send them the link. For example:
      • Google Drive:  example
      • Salesforce Chatter: example (also pasted below)
  • “But… what if someone sends you an attachment and asks for your feedback?” 

    • Then I’ll read it and email them my feedback. (I’d prefer to do this on Chatter, but if email is the only option, then email will have to do.)
  • “But what if they send you a document and ask you to make edits on the document itself and send it back?
    • I’ll use one of my nifty tools mentioned above to upload the document with my edits to Google Drive or my Salesforce environment, make them a collaborator, and then share with them the link. Ideally this would all occur in a single Chatter post …for example:
      Chatter Files equal awesome
  • “But what if it’s a confidential document?”
    • I’ll be sure to adjust the security settings of the document to meet the confidentiality requirements…kind of like magic:

Sharing_Settings

  • But what if you want to send pictures to your family?”
    • Easy breezy with Google+ and/or Facebook.

So, that’s it! Today – February 22nd, 2013 is my first day on this journey.  It almost feels like a cleanse diet, of sorts…but perhaps even better!  I’ll keep this updated with my progress & happily share any challenges or surprises that come my way.

Going on a diet by yourself is hard to do, right? So…. who’s with me that also wants to be #AttachmentFree?!

Too Many @Mentions = You’re Doing it Wrong

One of the things I like most about personal & professional social networks is the context that they provide around communication streams.  We’re able to target our messages to specific audiences without needing to remember (or capture) each and every individual, and we also have more control over what messages come to us from other people. (Let’s take Facebook, for instance: I’m a member of a Dave Matthews Band (DMB) group in Facebook, and when I have something to say or share that’s DMB-related, I post to that group rather than to my profile (most of the time). Why? Because my target audience is entirely contained in that group, whereas posting to my Facebook profile would push my DMB news to all of my Facebook friends, most of whom have no interest in viewing or participating in my DMB ridiculousness. So, quick lesson = context is key!)

A few weeks ago my company published a post I wrote that highlights this very concept in the professional network we use – Salesforce Chatter. In the post’s matrix we identified how someone should determine the most appropriate audience for any given Chatter post. Just like my Facebook group example, the beauty of Chatter and similar ESN tools is the ability for a single employee to find information, answers, content, and experts even if s/he doesn’t know who to ask. 

…Which brings me to my point: if you are consistently @mentioning more than a few people in your posts, one of two things is happening: 

  1. You’re not contextualizing your post appropriately (so as to reach the intended audience)
    and/or
  2. Your post is properly placed (in a group, for instance), but the appropriate audience isn’t receiving the message and thus not responding
The latter is not uncommon and is a significant part of what I’m paid to do every day in helping organizations develop consistent processes & streams of communication. When we see people abusing @mentions, sometimes the answer is training, sometimes the answer is adding or restructuring Chatter groups (though if it’s a 1-off conversation that may not be necessary).

I would expect that both of these reasons contribute to why people might be @mention abusers, but for now let’s assume that the first issue – contextualizing your post – is the primary reason for multiple @mentions. 

 In Chatter, an @mention directs a post to someone specific and, by default, notifies them via email. This can be a helpful tool in many instances, such as this one: 
In this case, I saw a post in the “Ideas Central” group and realized that Bailey wasn’t a member of that group, so I used an @mention to flag the post for Bailey. As a result, Noelle’s post is adding value for someone she doesn’t even know because of the great use of an @mention to Bailey. 
 
On the other hand, improper use of @mentions often means that you’re not finding the appropriate context for your post. Take this, for example:
We can see that Reese posted a marketing question to his profile – rather than the Marketing group – and simply @mentioned several people that he knows. In doing so, not only did he provide zero context but more importantly he didn’t reach the audience he needed. If it weren’t for the coincidental timing of Lucie seeing this thread, an inaccurate conclusion may have caused widespread & improper use of their marketing collateral.
 
Of course, there are occasions where multiple @mentions make sense, but more often than not, you shouldn’t need to use them consistently en masse – if you do, it’s no different then sending an e-mail to everyone in the company because you don’t know who to ask. That’s a problem Chatter is supposed to help solve.

Unsure if you’re an @mention abuser? Double check your post placement first (use the matrix as a guide!). If it turns out that you are properly contextualizing your post but not receiving the answers you need, hit me up and we can walk through potential strategies to address your organization’s Chatter environment and communication structures. 8^)

 

Honor thy Father: Lynn Webster

If you have never had the pleasure of meeting Lynn Webster, may I please present… my dad:

Lynn Roy Webster
Some of his many capes include being a husband, physician, chef, farmer, Nebraska-raised Utahan, ethicist, researcher, and academic.  He is an educator, a food and wine lover, a globe trotter, a sports fan, political activist, and a writer. But most importantly he is my father.
Go Huskers!



He is a humble, accomplished, and goofy (yet serious) man who consistently gives everything he has to his family, goes to the ends of the earth and back to help his patients, and sets the kind of example for living life that everyone in the world should be so lucky to witness.

On this 2012 father’s day, I’m reminded of the innumerable lessons that he has taught me, lessons that have molded me into who I am and who I strive to be every day.  There are a few in particular that are at the forefront of my mind:

Lesson: “Always do your very best. As long as you give 110%, I don’t care if you get an A or a C.”
“Dad, I’m sorry but I spilled another bottle of Champagne….” 
(My clumsiness is not necessarily the best example of 
giving 110% effort, but I’m getting better in that area!) 

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist when it came to getting high grades in school or on performance reviews at work – anything less than an A is generally unacceptable to me.  What my dad reminds me of is that no one, including me, can be good at everything, and that part of life’s early journey is to explore many areas and discover your strengths and your interests. Throughout this exploration there will be times where what I think or do doesn’t quite meet the situational requirements, and yes, I may even get a C; but that, he told me, is OK as long as it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.  He always said “As long as you work hard, you’ve got an A in my book.”

Dad schooling me on proper gnocchi cooking technique



This lesson has been an important one for me – it’s helped me keep things in perspective and to focus on what I can control which is my level of focus and effort, rather than investing (too much) in how the world will judge me at the end of the day. This work ethic has also helped me learn as much as I could from my mistakes, because when I didn’t get as high of a grade that I thought I deserved, I was able to learn from the experience by pinpointing areas for improvement, rather than being unsure if the failure was simply due to a lack of effort. 

Lesson: “Always be honest, generous, and do what you think is right.”

The Nebraskan side of my family helped teach me 
unconditional love.

My dad is a pillar of honesty and integrity and those are values that I think may actually be embedded in his DNA – they are evident throughout his entire Nebraskan family.  All of my Nebraskan relatives very purposefully and thoughtfully try to do the ‘right’ thing, and what’s ‘right’ is that which is honest, compassionate, and generous.

While seemingly simple, my dad demonstrates these values in his every thought, word, action, and as a result they are engrained in me in a way that now guide each and every decision I make.Quote: “I am just a farm boy from Nebraska.”


My dad has had an enormously successful career as a physician.  He started out as an anesthesiologist and began pioneering the unbelievably complicated and risky world of treating chronic pain and addiction.  He built his own clinical practice where he treated people in intractable, debilitating, and often life-threatening chronic pain.  Many of these people found that the only relief from their pain included, among other treatments, a delicate regimen of narcotics. The obvious danger with this treatment approach is the potential harm from the misuse of these drugs, regardless of intention, by the physician, patient, or even the patient’s friends/family.  



So his mission soon became to find a way to safely treat chronic pain while mitigating the risk of addiction and he built a research clinic to support these studies.  Now he is published widely, lectures frequently, and ultimately he paved the path for physicians internationally to help patients recover their lives through the safest possible means.  In fact, he even co-founded a non-profit organization dedicated to educating physicians, patients, politicians, federal agencies, and the general public about the risks, benefits, and strategies for safely and effectively treating chronic pain and addiction.

 

Don’t think for a second that any of this came without enormous personal and legal risk, given the delicate nature of treating people with life-threatening chronic pain, architecting treatment regimens that often included narcotic prescriptions, and the legal ramifications of potential negative outcomes to thousands upon thousands of cases. Despite all of this, the compassion and integrity with which he has always applied to his mission of helping people through their unimaginable pain is nothing short of inspiring.

This is what once was the one-room schoolhouse where
my dad attended grades K – 8. 
And all of this from a man who grew up on a farm in Nebraska, “in a one-room schoolhouse,” with so many around him (except his family) telling him that he had no hope of going to college, let alone graduating from medical school. Whenever he says “I’m just a farm boy,” he has a little smile on his face that reminds me of his roots and the unbelievable amount of hard work he put in every day of his life. He has truly earned everything that he has, which is something I’ll never be able to say because of the life he has generously afforded me. I am forever proud of him.

Dad showing me the ropes on a grain silo


Lesson: “Never depend on anyone but yourself.”

This important lesson is one that I’ve heard since my childhood, and something that I carry with me every day. My dad has implored me to, by every extent possible and reasonable, avoid depending on friends, on man or partner, on employers. It’s an important consideration for me and I think might be his way of helping to protect me when one day he may no longer be able to.  It’s a great reminder to survey my environment and ensure that, to every extent possible, I am self-sufficient. For instance, I, too, hope to be self-employed one day and my dad’s journey has set an incredible example for me.

Dad, Mom, and Me

The exception to this lesson, of course, is him – I can always depend on him and my family.  The other thing my dad has always told me is “I will always be here for you and anything you need.”  He is an amazing and inspiring individual and I am the luckiest person in the world to have him as a dad.

Happy Father’s day, dad – I love you and thank you always for being the best dad ever!!!

Seriously? These meetings need APPS … or need to go.



Well… not all meetings. But most of them. I’m not talking about the quick one-offs where you might be helping out a customer or colleague, or recurring status meetings, because those have specific objectives and generally meet the APPS criteria (below). [Although now with tools like Salesforce’s Chatter, the need for status meetings is quickly becoming obsolete.]

What I am talking about here are expectations for those typical, scheduled meetings that usually include 3>= people.

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Worthy meetings have APPS:

    1. Agendas: Show me some love. Show me that you care. Don’t waste my time by asking me to attend a meeting without an agenda… or at least a known objective.  I also prefer to have time limits on each agenda item, but for most people that’ll probably be phase 2, so let’s just start with getting agendas in the invite well ahead of the meeting itself. 

 

    • Without an agenda or known objective why would I be inclined to give up my time?
  1. Products: Meetings should produce or build something–otherwise what’s the point? The product could be a decision, a document, a calendar with milestones, action items…something. Don’t waste my time by hosting a meeting where we discuss–I mean, ‘brainstorm’–with nothing to show for it. Even brainstorming meetings should produce an outline, or action items.
  2. Preparation: Nothing drives me crazier than when I prepare for a   meeting (such as reading through a content draft so that I come to the meeting armed with feedback) only to find out that I was the only one who prepared, and the meeting is actually spent “discussing” (or regurgitating) what everyone should have known ahead of time. So… read up, review, understand everything you can so your meeting group can hit the ground running.
      • A great tip for keeping your calendar organized and up to date is to actually schedule your “to-do” items on your calendar. So if someone invites me to a meeting, I’ll schedule X amount of time before the meeting to prepare for it. This (fantastic) HBR blog post goes into more detail and I highly recommend reading: To-Do Lists Don’t Work
  3. Structured discussion: Let’s use lunch time or even Chatter to brainstorm sans limit, and save valuable meeting time for structured, facilitated discussion that sticks to the agenda. It’s so easy to get side tracked and lose focus, so the meeting host or facilitator should ensure the discussion is indeed structured.

Also:

  • Don’t be a jacka**. If someone has taken the time to prepare and execute a proper meeting, don’t waste their time by checking your phone/iPad/laptop. Ever. If you absolutely must send that email, leave the room and come back when you’re ready to contribute. 
  • For meetings in which I play a key role please check my schedule before sending the invite. It’s pretty easy, and most platforms support this super advanced feature (Outlook, Gmail, Lotus Notes).  
With so much on our plates these days it’s ever so important for to exercise respect for each other’s time. If I’m asking for your time, you can bet your bottom that I’m going to do everything in my power to make it productive.

Historically I actually cancelled / rescheduled meetings where key people had to bail at the last minute or when it became clear that no one had prepared…so I rescheduled with enough time that everyone could commit to preparation.

To be clear: I’m totally not a meeting nazi, perhaps just a little revved right now. And I definitely am guilty of committing at least one, if not all, of these faux pas, but the point is that I recognize and actively try to avoid them. My goal is to aim for, you know…collective respect.


Because respect RULES! #ThxKBai



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Sharing Chatter Posts: who gets credit?

Salesforce recently added a new feature to Chatter that allows users to re-share posts with their followers, with a group, or via link.  I am SUPER thrilled for this ability — it has been really helpful to highlight, share, and/or amplify information.  For instance, if I shared a post from Jim Halpert it would look like this:

Users can click on “originally posted” to view the author’s original post

Another feature simultaneously released is “Chatter Influence,” an out-of-the-box feature that basically assigns each user in a Chatter organization an influence ‘score’ based on a secret algorithm around how frequently you share information that people like or comment on.  For example, Jim Halpert is considered an “Active Influencer” in his org:



So here is my question: if I share a colleague’s post, and people like and/or comment on the post that I share (rather than the original post), who gets the influence “credit” — the original author or the re-sharer? (I threw this out to Salesforce, who, as usual, responded quickly and they are looking into it.)

  • Philosophically, who really should get the credit – the original author? The one who shared?  Maybe both? Ultimately if the shared post gets more attention, it’s probably because the original author may not have as large of a personal following, or they didn’t know to share with a specific group in order to reach a larger audience. In this case the post had much less influence before it was shared, but if the post had never existed it would carry no influence at all… 
So maybe what it comes down to is the question of assigning influence to how users communicate rather than what they communicate; it seems like what = content = value.  How is also an important consideration, so maybe a combination of “what” (content) and “how” (audience navigation) yield the most accurate influence score – but how should they be weighted? 

Sharing Chatter Posts w/ Private Groups: should the author be notified?

Last week I wanted to re-share a Chatter post with a private group (to suggest that the post’s author needed a response) but I hesitated because I didn’t want the author to know that I had shared their post.  I performed a quick test in my demo org and learned that the original author will not receive a notification if their post is shared with a private group of which they are not a member, which was pleasantly surprising. I tweeted @Salesforce positively acknowledging the noted detail, and yesterday a couple of Chatter product managers asked me this:


It’s an interesting question and I think the answer is entirely dependent on the context. (Also, would I know which group my post was shared with, or just that it had been shared with a private group?)

Consider these scenarios:
  • I post to Chatter with an idea about increasing productivity. If I received a notification that my post had been shared with the “Leadership Team” — a private group that I cannot view — I would probably feel good because someone thought enough of my idea to share it with my company’s leadership. 
  • I post to Chatter about X and receive a notification that my post has been shared with the Human Resources private group. That might make me nervous — what am I saying that demands HR’s attention?  Are they going to get in touch with me? 
Ultimately: if I want to reference a user’s post in a private group I will find a way to do so discreetly (i.e. in a way that does not include notifying the author) and I’m not really sure of the value of notifying the author.  Maybe including an option to notify the author would be appropriate, depending on what the share-r intends to accomplish….  As an end user, I’d rather not know if my post is shared w/ a private group because then I would just wonder, perhaps unnecessarily.  If someone wants to respond to me, they will.