Path: Capabilities: Individual: Productivity: Communication
Friday, 08 September 2017
15 Processes For Organizing Your Communication
How many channels of communication do you use? You probably use Phone, Text Messages, Email, Slack, Zoom (or Facetime, Hangouts, Skype, or some other video calling service), Facebook Messenger (or Whatsapp, or any number of other Messaging applications).
That is a lot of channels to keep track of! How do you stay on top of it all — do you even have time to respond to every message? If you do, by sheer effort, manage to respond to everybody, how do you have time left over to be proactive?
With Invisible Technologies you can build and run processes to keep your communication channels organized for you — so you can focus on the aspects of communication that actually matter.
Most of the Messages you send are actually quite predictable. Perhaps you pride yourself on the quality of your correspondance, and believe that your recipients delight in your prose. Be that as it may be, you would do well to build a library of templates.
But this isn’t a priority for you now, nor will it ever be. So you should let us build a library of templates for you, based on your past correspondence.
After a month or so of monitoring your communication, your S.I. can build a template library that will cover the majority of your communication with a sufficient response.
But over time, there’s no limit to how good we can get at predicting your communication, because instead of relying purely on software algorithms, our processes are synthetic and can leverage human intuition.
Once a template library is in place, your S.I. can begin to draft responses for you. The nice thing about drafts is that you can always personalize them. You can even discard them if you don’t like them — and over time, your S.I. will learn from that behavior to improve future drafts.
If you trust templates enough, you can empower your S.I. to send messages on your behalf, either as you, or as your assistant. Both of these are common responsibilities for executive assistants, who have access to their executive’s inbox and have developed strong intuition over time for style and business context. With an S.I. that same intuition exists: although it may take longer to develop, it is more reliable and robust, because it is process driven.
If you are focused on another task, and don’t want to be distracted by your messages, you don’t even need to log into your communications inboxes to send a message. Just write a draft for your S.I., and your S.I. will send it for you. For example:
Keats, send Coco this message.
To: Coco Channel
Subject: Idea For A Futuristic Cape
Coco, I had an idea this morning.
Let’s bring back capes for men, using synthetic materials.
There has to be some modern function to the form.
Perhaps conductive heating.
What do you think?
Blasts are extremely powerful. Suppose you are hosting an event for Designers in San Francisco, so naturally you want to invite every single one of your Contacts who is a Designer in San Francisco. With Contacts powered by Invisible, you can fire and forget. Just send your S.I. the template you want to send out, and your S.I. will do the legwork of sending it to all 65 of your Contacts. Like this:
Keats, send every Designer I know in San Francisco this invitation.
To: [Designers in San Francisco]
Subject: Invitation to design talk by Coco Channel
How are you?
My dear friend Coco is in town next Tuesday night.
She’ll be hosting a talk at Interval Cafe in Fort Mason at 5pm.
She’ll be talking about how she designed Daring,
her company’s new cape, which just launched.
Her design process involved software,
hardware and materials factors. She’ll be discussing the
challenges of synthetic, multi-dimensional design.
How often do you hear a dead legend speak?
If you’ve made at least one introduction to a person in the past, your S.I. can use that as a template for future introductions to that person. If you’ve made an introduction in the past to both parties, then you don’t need to do any work at all! Send a message like this to your S.I.:
Keats, can you introduce Estée to Coco?
Send as me, without my approval.
Then some time later you’ll see this:
To: [Coco Channel], [Estée Lauder]
Subject: Coco meet Estée
Coco is the legend we all know.
Estée is new on the scene but very talented.
I feel you’d benefit from each other’s acquaintance.
Based on a Contacts process, you can have your S.I. star messages for you based on the importance ranking of the sender. Based on a Tasks process, you can have your S.I. star messages for you based on your current priorities.
Any heuristic you can turn into a set of instructions, can be used to prioritize your communications!
Communications distract us from our priorities. If you want to focus on work, or even go on vacation, you don’t want that awful feeling of wondering whether you’re missing something important, or if there is an emergency lurking in your unread messages. And you may not want to be “that guy” who send an “Away On Vacation” Out Of Office message.
Just set some prioritization rules for your S.I., and tell your S.I. to notify you of starred messages only. Instead of logging in to check all of your communications, your S.I. will change your view so that you see Starred messages only. One or two Messages a day is far more manageable than one or two hundred!
Your S.I. will send you instructions for turning off all other mobile and desktop notifications.
In recent years the Reminders feature has become nearly ubiquitous in Message inboxes. Sometimes you don’t need to respond right away, but you may want to pick up a thread in the future — and don’t want to forget. So you set a reminder on the thread.
The problem with software like this is that there is no human intuition. Say you set a reminder for “two weeks from now”. Then, between now and then, your priorities change.
An S.I. is far more powerful than software, so you can just ask your S.I. to remind you. You can set any parameters you want for the reminder, or just trust your S.I. to guess. Over time, your S.I. will learn to improve its intuition about when to bug you about what.
Here’s an example of a reminder you could never set with software today or in the near future.
Keats, see below, Edward sent me this — often misattributed to Gandhi.
Send this to Peter next time they criticize him in the press.
First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.
A certain percentage of your Messages should just be routed to other members of your team. For example, you might be a member of your company’s Operations team, but you might receive interest from an engineering candidate in your network. If you’re working at the best company ever, you might get lots of inbound interest like this — say, a message a week.
Although it doesn’t take much effort to CC the right person on your team on the message, it is a distraction. And if your colleagues forget to BCC you, you’ll be distracted again.
Your S.I. can suggest, and you can request, any number of smart routing heuristics to keep your inbox clear of distractions.
Suppose you are participating in your company’s sales efforts. There is a Google Sheet or a CRM that is serving as your team’s Sales Funnel. It is supposed to be updated with the latest status on every active Sales thread.
This is a huge distraction. Every time you respond to a thread, you have to switch out of your communications application into your tracking application. Although it is very strategic to track data like this, the actual work involved is incredibly rote.
Your S.I. can suggest, and you can request, any number of smart tracking operations like this, to keep you focused.
You can send your S.I. messages from any channel, or CC your S.I. into a communication threads. You can delegate to your S.I. from anywhere.
For example, if someone sends you a book recommendation over email, you can Forward it to your S.I. Or, even better, add a smart tracking rule so your S.I. automatically mines your inbox for all book recommendations.
Suppose you’re on the go and you have an idea. Just text it to your S.I. and it will make sure it is saved in the right place.
Your S.I. aspires to omnipresence.
Like any superb assistant, your S.I. can shield you from unwanted communication. Suppose you want to respond to fan mail, but you don’t want to be sucked into distractions.
Just ask your S.I. to respond for you! Your S.I. can suggest some initial templates, and together you can iterate from there.
By shielding yourself, you are not just protecting yourself, you are preserving upside by preserving the relationship. A courteous response from your S.I. could turn into an invitation or an opportunity that you may actually decide to accept.
Your S.I. can not only shield you from external communications, but from internal communications. You can have certain members of your team, or even your whole team, communicate with you through your S.I., just like you could with an assistant. If your S.I. doesn’t know how to respond to a query, then and only then will you get distracted.
Data is trapped in communications. Most people have most of their data in emails and other message threads across a range of applications. Your S.I. can export this data into your personal and company database, and use it to build your digital brain.
Invisible categories all data, everywhere. So, of course, we categorize your communications data. We categorize it before exporting it, so the data is easy to organize afterwards.
Communications naturally results in new categories. For example, you may want to sort all of your communications by person or by group. These categories will be added to your custom taxonomy.
Because of the interface limitations of most communications applications, when we may add categorization metadata in our database it may not appear for you until we export it into your digital brain.
After categorizing and exporting your data, we format it to match other data types in your data base. You won’t believe how nice it is to see your emails de-uglified, for example, in a beautiful Slack Post. You’ll finally realize what treasures you have locked away all these years!
Imagine being able to properly read your correspondence with one of your closest friends over the years. Epistolary literature has suffered in the digital age because email protocols are so unbelievably ugly.
Your S.I. can retitle all of your subject lines, while preserving the old subject lines. For example:
Subject: You know that thing you once said…
About “not losing the path, because your eyes are open”
Subject: Re: “Not Losing The Path”
You know that thing you once said…
About “not losing the path, because your eyes are open”
Simple data manipulations such as these enforce universal formatting protocols, which make your data much easier to browse, read and network together. Protocols, of course, are customizeable, and can evolve based on your preferences.
Your S.I. will suggest that you record your phone calls via UberConference, Zoom and other channels that have this feature. Your S.I. will then organize and categorize these recordings for you in your digital brain.
Transcription technology is still limited, but it is improving. As it improves, your S.I. will oversee transcribing your recordings data so that you can use it properly. Think about how much useful data is trapped in these recordings!
If a particular recording is important enough to you to transcribe, we can facilitate that through a specialized Vendor.
Don’t get bogged down by the noise. Communications take up the majority of focus in our age, and yet only certain aspects of communications are truly valuable and strategic. Let your S.I. do the work for you, so you can focus on crafting intelligent messages and proactively improving your relationships.