Human Process Management and the Email Filter Failure Problem

I watched an interesting lecture by Clay Shirky on information overload (Its not Information Overload, its Filter Failure), and quite a few of his points have meshed with what we have found at ActionBase. One of his points is that information overload has been with us for a long time – as a term it has been around for around 20 years, and for hundreds of years there has been more information free available then a person could manage. What has changed is the social based filtering systems that help alleviate the problem of information overload no longer work.

Using his argument – much of email overload is a social system design problem – there effectively no cost to sending an email (as opposed to the cost of say, printing a memo and sending it) so there is very little thought at the source about whether to  send an email or not. Especially, which has an economic incentive to pepper people with useless email (though there are technical solution helping with that). But what about the rest of  you email, the ones that aren’t spam, but aren’t critically important?

ActionBase helps alleviate the email overload issue by creating a different class of email called “ActionMail”.  Even though it is as easy to do as regular email (and you use the same tools), it actully has social mechanisms that helps with filtering at the source – ActionMail remains in the senders inbox until the process is complete, and the resulting email conversations are tracked. Those two additional features utilize normal human social systems to ensure that ActionMails aren’t just more spam, but indicate that the source (the initiator of the ActionMail) has done some filtering and has decided that this email is actualy somethingof import that shouldn’t be ignored.

By dividing everyday email into two classes (regular email and ActionMail) with similar but slightly different social paradigms, ActionBase ensures that your ActionBox is short and to the point, containing business email that really requires your attention, alleviating the problem of email overload.

That in a nutshell what Human Process Management is – a way to solve the issues with human processes that are done today  using regular email and documents (issues such as information overload, followup,  tracking, visibility), while allowing users to remain in their familiar email and document environment.


6 Responses to “Human Process Management and the Email Filter Failure Problem”

  1. Nathan Zeldes Says:

    Interesting angle, Jacob. I like the notion of differentiating between ordinary and higher-quality emails, which the sender tags and the recipient can tell apart. We’ve examined that idea at Intel a few years ago, though we stopped short of implementing it in software.

  2. Tweets that mention Human Process Management and the Email Filter Failure Problem | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gary C and ActionBase, Theo Priestley. Theo Priestley said: Human Process Management and the Email Filter Failure Problem – /via @ActionBase #bpm […]

  3. Process Models, Process Warehouse and Adaptive Case Management | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit Says:

    […] data existed before, just no one was capturing it – sort of as the same issue as with the email filter problem) is causing so much angst. Then it hit me – the capture of this data is missing something- […]

  4. Nathan Zeldes Says:

    I revisit the Clay Shirky “It’s not Information Overload, its Filter Failure” meme at .

    As I point out there, while the filter failure is a real phenomenon (which ActionBase can indeed help with), it doesn’t negate the existence of the IO problem, which has additional aspects that Clay seems to ignore.

  5. Alfonso Murat Says:

    is the solution? check it 😉

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