Michael Sampson just pinged me with his Email vs. Collaboration Technology: The Big Match, Dec 12. It's a great summary of the ongoing discussion about whether email can be considered a collaboration tool.
The thing I want to highlight is realization that most of the problems associated with email have nothing to do with email itself:
That is 8 of the 11 aforementioned problems with email are [primarily] people problems, not email technology problems at all. And thus if we can identify what perfect usage and adoption looks like, then we should be able to mitigate / reduce / eliminate many if not all of these problems too. Hence, the true "problems of email" become more manageable and not as severe as it would appear on first glance. And equally, it also shows that the mere application of another technology won't solve all 11 problems, because 8/11ths of the problems in practice aren't technology related at all.
This is a nice example of attempting to look at the system, rather than at the evidence of the system. One of the the fun aspects of creating change in organizations is that it rare that people can articulate all the barriers, obstacles and negative ramifications of moving from one way of doing things to another. The team really needs to test the idea (by thinking about it, or testing the actual change) and consider how things have worked and all the implications of the change. After weeks with a client, I always discover new policies and rules that I'd never discover if I assumed that I understood everything because of my expertise. But by this point, the client is beyond the point of deciding whether to make the change: we are working together to make sure the change can happen successfully.