Meet Belinda Waldock, our November inbox hero!
Belinda is an energetic multi-tasker who has a hand and foot in many of the amazing initiatives that drive forward the Agile community in the UK.
She is an Agile Business Coach, author of the best selling book Being Agile in Business, co-organiser of the globally recognized conference in Cornwall, Agile on the Beach, and co-founder of Software Cornwall, one of the fastest growing tech communities in the UK.
(From Amazon, image posted by the author)
Her book Being Agile in Business has been internationally published, shortlisted as the CMI management book of the year and translated into Chinese.
(From Belinda’s website http://www.beingagile.co.uk/)
Needless to say, Belinda knows how to stay busy… As someone who communicates with a high number and wide variety of people in the course of a single day, we thought Belinda would be the perfect person to share some know-how about how she keeps (or doesn’t keep!) track of it all.
As a lover of efficiency and someone who is running many parallel projects with hundreds of stakeholders, how does she keep her communication Lean?
So, we caught up with Belinda after her meetup on Agile Outside of IT in London to ask her how she handles tasks coming from emails on a daily basis and what she thinks about a Kanban workflow taking over her Gmail or Office 365 inbox.
What is your relationship to email? How many do you get per day?
I’m really bad with my inbox. My inbox has 697 unread emails and probably about 2000 total. People with empty inboxes cry when they see my phone and they see the number on the inbox app.
I use flagging tools and my physical Kanban board to organize the chaos at this point. When an email drops in, I make a post-it note and add it on the board. That’s my actionable stuff.
However, in terms of working remotely or having to layer 5 or 6 post-it notes one on top of the other to show how a conversation has progressed….it gets crowded, to say the least.
Do many of your tasks come from emails? How do you handle them?
There has been a lot of ongoing talk that “email is dead,” but that hasn’t happened at all. It’s still very much a channel for tasks. Yet, email is clunky. It was built for when we were receiving 5-10 emails a day.
What are some of the worst habits in regards to email that you’ve seen?
Mine. I’m probably the worst at it than any other person I know. Admin has never been my forte.
Is the email communication process as a whole Lean and/or Agile?
Do these methodologies even have a place in the email inbox?
My position is that – any way you can link up Lean and Agile tools with what you’re currently doing is a good thing because it can help people migrate to using those methodologies in other areas of their work life as well.
The email process is really linear. To me, this means that managing it can definitely be improved and replicated.
Can integrating Kanban in the way you process your emails be a good starting point?
Integrating Kanban with email is a great step towards improving process in general. It is a new way of introducing more sophisticated methods into the way you process daily tasks.
I’m already doing that! Knowing that all of your key stuff is over on your Kanban board in Flow-e means your general inbox, with all sorts of stuff floating around, can stay clear.
As long as you can query that board and find ongoing tasks or threads, it’s great.
(Belinda at Agile on the Beach, www.headforwards.com)
What do you see as the benefits of using Kanban in your inbox?
I always say that the best way for people to experiment and test with Lean and Agile is using it for their personal workload. The idea of linking email and Kanban is a really cool one.
We found that incredibly useful when we were organizing Agile on the Beach and working with a crowded email inbox to which everyone needed to have access.
It was super valuable in knowing the state of tasks and communication with our many stakeholders.
How often do you delegate via email?
In Software Cornwall, we used Trello as a forwarding address and a variety of people picking emails out of that box, but people had to add their profiles to Trello and assign themselves to tasks.
That became a problem because we had a “reply all rule,” so everyone would know what was going on at any given time. It got messy quite quickly and difficult to track.
It required quite a lot of manual handling in Trello. Now that Software Cornwall has scaled, we need better implementation of these processes, and we need better tools to support that.
Any integrations with current tools don’t really work because they don’t recognize existing threads.
So, any new reply will just show up as a new conversation and clutter up the board.
Learn more about Belinda Waldock and her projects
Belinda Waldock (@belindawaldock) works with private and public sector teams and businesses supporting growth and improvement. She focuses on creating whole business agility from teams & products, to business models and cultural transformation. Her translation of agile for non IT adoption ‘Being Agile’, has been adopted by a broad range of high growth businesses across many business sectors, from finance to fashion, HR to PR, museums to microbreweries, she has found agile can be of great value to many teams or organisations. Belinda is a co-founder and director of www.SoftwareCornwall.org, a community of businesses, education and support organisations dedicated to supporting the tech community in Cornwall.
Read also: 6 Kanban Books for Productivity You Have to Read in 2018