Email Management For Productivity: Easy To Mistake A Tool For A Solution

by Michael Hoffman

Even though most of our customers might call our LeanMail email management software for Microsoft Outlook the definitive solution for email management, productivity, and efficiency, it’s not.  It’s easy to mistake a tool for a solution because once you have consciously and subconsciously bought into the need of the tool, understand how to use it properly and benefit from the results, you are apt to forget how you initially struggled in the process of adopting a new way of working.  The tool itself is useless if people don’t fully buy into the methodology (The biggest issues with email nowadays). How many organizations have purchased hugely expensive CRM systems that their employees begged for only to find out that less than one third were willing to input data, and do so inconsistently?

In cases where the success of a new implementation is reliant upon the abilities of people to change and adopt new ways, the credit for embedding a solution must be shared between two equally important components: 1) a solid, easy to understand, and appealing methodology; and 2) training that takes into consideration the fact that we are human — meaning that it’s not just about appealing to logic and common sense.  If you think that’s easy, note that IBM made a survey in 2008 with 1.500 change management executives and discovered that the biggest barrier to success was changing mindsets and attitudes.  This single stumbling block accounting for a full 58% of why these executives’ projects failed. (check the survey here)

Developing the method and training for email productivity

It is for this reason that we, at LeanMail, spend more time and resources on developing the method and training than we do on software development – but then we don’t call ourselves a software company.  We are not only an email management tool but a solution provider in the real sense of the word.

One of my favorite customer testimonials came from a manager at Kimberly-Clark.  She wrote:

Atrendia provides every opportunity to form this habit before the training ends. This is what makes them such a distinguished training organization: they don’t let you leave the training without forming the habit of using LeanMail. (check out our training options here) 

Her words encapsulate the essence of the mission we are on.  We don’t want to be merely email productivity trainers; instead, our mission and our passion is to provide a long term solution to an enormous challenge that now spans decades, costing tens of billions of dollars annually.  The only way to do that is to understand how to help all kinds of people from widely varying cultures break their old habits and disrupt the status quo.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not the quality of the tool or the training that determines the outcome, but the willingness of the participant to part with unconscious beliefs.  Just ask yourself how willing you are to completely throw away your method of handling email in exchange for something you know nothing about?  And yet 94% of all the people who participate in our training recommend or highly recommend LeanMail. Our task is daunting and it has taken us over ten years to master to this point.

How does the perfect trainee look like:
  1. She or he is actively seeking a new way of doing things in a particular area they are being trained in.
  2. She or he is ready to put aside any long-held beliefs in order to exchange them for new ones.
  3. Any new things they learn will not challenge her or his old way of thinking enough to dissuade them from enduring.
  4. The learning curve will not be seen as a hindrance; instead, the challenge will excite her or him to obtain and conquer the new habits they are required to adopt.
You’re probably thinking:  Hmm, not a lot of them around – and you’d be right.

Even if the training material is presented in a logical, interesting and informative way; and even if the trainees recognize the material as important and useful; and even if enough time is allowed for experience and practice, most training is due to fail because rarely does a trainer stand in front of a perfect trainee.

The reason why an excellent product and engaging training is not enough is the fact that we all have very strong beliefs, and these beliefs — rightly or wrongly held — are often impermeable to logic or rationale (Think of some of your friends’ political beliefs).  Further, any challenges to our beliefs — consciously or unconsciously — will be seen as a threat and therefore be resisted.

How on earth do people learn then? Training and Behavioral Change.

We have been training thousands of people for over ten years and we have found that there are eight important principles that must be understood and incorporated into any training requiring behavioral change:


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