Saturday, March 15, 2008

Columbia University in New York

At 3022 Broadway, the Columbia School of Business is an amazing array of different schools within the school!

An interesting topic, and one that could easily be an initiative we should all take: about managing email. There is no dearth of guidelines around email, but a lot of educational institutions don't have specific guidelines. If I had to distil into five lines or less (like a good powerpoint):

1. Use good subject headings, and change when the subject changes
2. Only use for brief information, and to provide background for meetings - one screen is the maximum. One College Director I knows believes that two sentences are enough, and I agree.
3. If you are CC'd, you do not need to act, including writing a four page screed in reply
4. The only thing urgent to me is something to do with my family. If it is that urgent, call the person.
5. Don't ever write anything you don't want the world to know - that is what conversations are for!

I can't say I've always followed these rules either, so no commenting about my hypocrisy :-)

Michael Feiner, at, has a number of relevant and excellent points about leadership, but two stands out for me: "Demonstrating trust elicits trust." and "Debate, discussion, disagreement and dialogue are the lifeblood of vibrant and adaptive organizations." People are still scared of open and honest discussion - open and honest does not mean derogatory and destructive. Sure you get your trust thrown in your face sometimes, but for the most part, it works - try it!

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