A friend on Twitter pointed me to a simple post from Chance Bliss. It's only one paragraph and the title basically tells you everything: Managing projects through email sucks. But in case that isn't enough, here is the first sentence.
There are many ways to sabotage a project, but the one I find the most effective is email.
Good stuff! This statement can be just as easily applied to the business at large. Email is fine for the transmission of facts and some information, but directing people and asking for more nuanced information via email is just asking for trouble. In most cases, this just fails outright. How many times have you seen emails pinging back and forth when a simple phone call or office drop in could resolve the question then and there?
The struggle for many people and organizations is that they see no other way to work than via email because it has become so deeply ingrained in the way of doing things.
Here is a suggestion: Instead of sending email, step back for ten seconds and reflect on: Does this need to be sent? Can I contact the person directly instead?