This is a rant, sorry, but not totally content free.
Any email or communication that I get that isn't interesting to me is spam. Because I'm a hypocrite that includes the email I specifically asked to see, boring is still spam. I want a check box that says only send me stuff I'll be interested in, and then it had better still be amazing.
So how does this affect a company or individual? Don't send email. Unless you can guarantee that the recipient will be interested in what you have to say, Just don't. This includes deal of the frigging day.
All companies that you and I deal with have masses of information about us, they are just being lazy. I'm a bloke, sending me lazer hair removal offers is not going to make me want to spend my money. You are now an annoyance, the hole is only going to get deeper and yet you stil seem to be digging.
Facebook knows everything about me, so why the hell do I see un-targeted adverts. If they charged by impression adverts would get targeted really quickly. Targeting population segments based on loads of information is supposed to be a Marketing wet dream so whats going on. In fact i think that is the definition of a Market.
There are companies that can do this and do it well, unfortunately the cost of over communication isn't measured only the conversion.
Assume that you get to communicate with an individual once a year. As an example take 50k customers (nice to have) and segment them into fifty groups. So you're compiling one email a week, leave them alone at christmas please. For that thousand people find something that they will want to see. That is not hard. Please bear in mind though that you don't get to talk to them again for a year so make it good. Or better still don't send the email at all.
And don't ever call me after 6, just don't. There's a reason that I'm available then, and it's not for you.
Iv'e just finished reading Re-Work, the 37Signals book that encapsulates their philosophy. Its written by DHH so it doesn't exactly pull its punches.
One of the chapters is about the work environment, it specifically talks about not treating staff like they are kids. Elsewhere in the book there are references to having people who work instead of delegators.
I think that the two ideas mesh together nicely. By giving people the ability to make decisions for themselves. You make yourself less important then if they are constantly having to come to you to ask for permission. At that point you might have to explain exactly what you do all day, or not. Maybe you just get to be able to work normal hours again instead of spending all day answering emails and then doing you day job outside of hours when you are tired.
Tim Ferris talks about the same ideas in the Four Hour Work Week except that employees he has outsourced most of his business to other companies. He told them to speak to each other and if they could resolve any problem for less than $400 to get on with it. At the end of the month he reviews any decisions made and sets new guidelines to inform decisions.
The essence of this treat people like children and they will act that way.
At some point an agile thing (developer, project, business, whatever really) interfaces with something else. This is hard. Oh and its boring, its boring because you have to keep repeating the same ideas until they stick. And then un-stick them and re-explain because the wrong ideas has suck.
An electronic engineer would call this an impedance miss match.
The standard , solution to this seems to be to preach, oh sorry educate what ever is on the other side of the interface. The essential problem with this is that unless the entire work decided to be agile there will always be an interface. So we need a way to deal with it that doesn't involve conversion.
Oh and to be honest wile we think that its the most important thing in the word, err, no one else gives a damn.
They would mostly just like it to work please, soon if possible.
So how can we avoid going nuts repeating ourselves. Simple, get someone else to do it for you. Absolutely insist that someone from the other side of the interface is involved in the agile thing you are doing.
They can then go and explain what is going on for you, thus preserving your sanity.
Oh and your going to fail if you don't have it.