Solving Communication Problems one Google Group at a time

UPDATE:

To Whom It May Concern,

I regret to inform you that google groups suck. They have universally been a headache and over-all declined my quality of life and the people who have been in groups with me. BenCrawfordLIFE.com would like to formally apologize for any influence that we have had in promoting or encouraging googlegroup involvement. Unfortunatley, we have not found any viable alternatives for productive online multiway conversations….BUT WAIT! This just in…Google Wave (a new service that melds e-mail, instant messaging, online forums, and wikis into a grand messaging service).

Looks like it’s going to be a while until it is released, so until then, the majority of the productivity that cannot be accomplished by “liking” friends status updates will simply have to be halted. This could really be it though.

Once again, I apologize for any misdirection you have received from this site. Here at BenCrawfordLIFE.com hope to remain on the cutting edge of technology and culture and are not afraid to admit when we are wrong if it means keeping the trust of our avid readers

Ben.

ps See you in 6 months when I write a post about how terrible google wave is.

learn more here:

Originally posted on 9/13/09

Fact: Most conversations happen in a virtual arena (cell phones, email)

Fact: These conversations are extremely difficult and limited when you have 3 or more people.

Fact: I will buy lunch for anyone that comes up with an alternate idea that is more productive and efficient than the one I will present here.

There are two major annoyances when it comes to communicating with a group of 3 or more.

  1. It is difficult to get more than 3 people in one place (even conference calls are a pain)
  2. It is hard to decide something when only  2 of 3 people are present
To date, the widely accepted solution (mostly based upon simplicity)  has been the “reply all”

button on email. There are numerous problems with this:

  • It is difficult to carry on more than one conversation or topic at a time
  • Much of the conversation is not relevant for a large % of the recipients
  • The result is usually massive inbox clutter
  • It can be very hard to create a “flow” of conversation and often times this is reflected in lack of results.

I know what you’re thinking…we need to have meetings in big board rooms where we can see each other’s faces. The problem with this is that is has been so widely accepted that the conventional meeting is about the most inefficient way to actually accomplish tasks of any kind.  The inefficiency is increased by the number of people and the diversity of the topics.


Lucky for you I have a solution (or a free lunch) for you. The answer is…

I guess the name of the post gave it away…

Success is just 3 easy steps away…

1. You must have a gmail or google account to set up the group. This is free and you should  have one anyways.  ANY email address will work to join a group.

2. Create a google group. For this post I created a google group called EveryoneShouldUseGoogleGroups.

It took me one minute and 5 seconds from start to finish. You can also invite whoever you want to the group and set  it to be public or private.

At this point I think it may be helpful to  discuss who you would invite and what on earth you may use a google group for?!

I think the easiest way to think of a google group is to think of it as a conversation. So where in your life do you have conversations with more than one person. For two people, email and phone is still the easiest. But for any more than that it gets more complicated. Here are some examples:

  • Business tasks and discussion. Want to discuss an idea and see implementation? Progress can be observed and assessed by all members in the flow of thread. What if you replaced the 60 minutes of babbling at a meeting (that all 7 people have to drive in traffic to get to) to 4 threads of  bullet points on a google group?
  • Group of friends. Do you find yourself discussing topics that are relevant to the same 5 people all the time? In a group people can hop into a particular thread, start their own, or tune out for things that aren’t relevant to them.
  • Plan an event. Wanting to organize a dinner or game night?  Who’s going to bring what? Are we talking Monopoly or Risk? create a group. Remember, you are creating a venue for a conversation. It doesn’t need to last forever. If it takes 65 seconds and is free you can make a new one for each event. It takes approximately 2 seconds to delete.
3. Encourage people to post things on the group instead of cc/reply all email. This is easy. There are two ways. You can post directly onto the page…or you can send an email to (GoogleGroupName)@googlegroups.com. Each email will get posted on the board and you can follow all of the responses like a conversation.
Would you rather have this:
.
.
Or this?
.
.
Now, I know what you are thinking!
“Why would I want to memorize a NeW userNAME and paSSwoRd and log into a new website 10TEN TIMES a DAy just to get MY messages? PLus I wouLD have to SeT the Whole ThinG UP!”
But hang on for just one second. We use iPhoto to make our photo life easier, an iPod to make our music life easier….so…
why not use…

.

.

.

.

.

.

BAM!!!


iGoogle’s web page claims that you can set up your own homepage in under 30 seconds.
I clocked in at 23 seconds.
.
For an additional 26 seconds you can have your homepage look like this:
.
  • All your groups are listed with a number that tells you how many unread messages there are. One click and you’re there.
  • Google reader updates any blog or RSS feed you subscribe to so everything you care about comes to you.
  • Google calendar will sync with every google calendar you have set up, all of your friends google calendars, and ical.
  • As if that wasn’t enough you can customize the theme to fit whatever mood you’re in for the hour.
  • AND there’s a million other “gadgets” that will show you your gmail, maps, photos, recipes, lunar calendar, virtual aquariums, news, sports crap, etc, Etc, ETC!!! oh and by the way…everything drags around so you can customize your layout at ANY time!
  • With iGoogle you can transfer as many  multi-way conversations conversation from any venue and follow them seamlessly with no added time or headache! You could literally be tracking 100’s of these!

Bottom Line

Set iGoogle to be your home screen,  keep the tab open on any browser and you are always one click away from World Peace!
.
.
.
.
Since I’m cheap and really don’t want to buy you lunch…
I’ll keep going…
You have these email options for anything that is posted

NO

.

FREE

.

LUNCH

.

FOR

.

.

YOU!

Let’s break down the value and cost:
Value: Less time, miscommunication, and inefficiency = increased productivity and more friends
Cost:
65 seconds + 23 seconds + an email address =
88 seconds and one email address
divided by 60 =
TOTAL COST
1 minute and 28 seconds and an email address
Act now! Convert your convoluted, confusing and frustrating conversations, meetings and relationships to GoogleGroups.
Join my EveryoneShouldUseGoogleGroups Google Group
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3 thoughts

  1. You’re a genius. I can’t believe I’m married to you. Can you still buy me lunch even though I’m not smart enough to out-think you?

  2. I sent this email out to a group of people

    Some things that came to mind are:

    we started one for our blackjackapprenticeship website. i would like to include jeff and jeremy so the three of us can track communication with them and chart progress on their sporadic tasks.

    i started one for our house. the purpose will be to organize logistics, house meetings, schedule, etc.

    I would like to begin a “conversation” about
    community living with mowry’s , treases, pryors, and anyone else that wants to hop on board and has something valuable to offer. the conversation could be just as you would imagine any conversation: What do you guys think about this? anyone have any ideas on how to have a house meeting? etc. I think this beats be trying to talk with stephen, talking to mark and saying “stephen said” and then hearing an idea form Jeremy that I then want both stephen and mark to know about.

    some future discussion to have:

    JP and portland, tacoma, kirkland, DC training
    center leaders

    5-fold communication

    elders from fort thomas

    arranging future bootcamp type events in future locations.

    anyways, i currently have 6 of these rocking and i’m interested to see if it will work. This format may not work and even if it does work it may be temporary.

    just wanted to give you guys a heads up because i’m going to begin a barrage of invitations and i don’t want everyone to get annoyed with the inconvenience of it all.

    bnc

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