Impromptu Consultation and the Post-Email Era

Dave Pollard’s post called “Re-learning the Art of Impromptu Consultation” struck me as being an important one as we move into the post-email world and consider how collaboration tools should work.
How do we duplicate the best aspects of face-to-face communication (and here Pollard’s emphasis on consultation seems especially important) when we increasingly work, collaborate and communicate electronically?
There’s much to chew on in Pollard’s post. The money quote:

What we could do is to add to IM an ability to:
a. virtually ‘knock’, just-in-time, with an indication of how many minutes of the consultee’s time we need,
b. simply conference others into the conversation, and
c. simply add voice, video and desktop-sharing capability to the IM conversation.
Then IM, instead of having to carry the conversation, would be used mostly to set up the conversation, in a way analogous to the ‘knock on the door’ that is used to set up a face-to-face just-in-time conversation (“do you have 5 minutes to resolve a problem we’re having with…?”). Once the IM ‘knock’ was accepted, the participants would then ‘one-click’ into a VoIP conversation with video and desktop-sharing ‘attached’ to the resizeable IM pop-up window. . . . The advantages over e-mail are increased effectiveness (because the conversation is real-time interactive and spoken, not written and asynchronous), and improved context (because of the addition of aural, visual and body-language ‘clues’).

His conclusion is something that we all should spend some time thinking about:

Ubiquitous e-mail and Internet access in organizations have created more problems than they’ve solved, and it’s time to rein them in to situations where their use is appropriate and effective. To do so, we’ll have to relearn some old tricks, like how to consult, converse, communicate and research, professionally. It can’t happen soon enough.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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