No. I think the world loves to complain.
As far as Lotus Notes is concerned, I run into folks that say they hate Notes as often as I run into users that say that they hate (insert product name here). (I even know Mac users that complain about their software. Shocking, I know.)
In my experience it often comes down to
a) no understanding of "What's in it for me?", or
b) lack of training - management simply said here's your new tool
How do we, the Notes community help fix this problem? I think we need to start by understanding the problem.
Many years ago, Zig Ziglar taught me that most people never ever change their mind. They simply make new decisions when presented with new information.
I've been able to show many a self-proclaimed Notes-hater new information -- a simple few things that they can do that will be personally beneficial to them -- and almost immediately they change their song about Lotus Notes.
It's that easy.
If it's that easy, why isn't everyone singing the praises of Notes?
Sometimes it comes down to poor implementation or implementation for the wrong reasons. Many companies deploy (insert product name here) hoping for a "solution," a magic pill that will fix their problems. Invariably, I find that users in these organizations are the most dissatisfied. When an organization deploys Notes, it needs to have a clear understanding of the role that Notes will play in their overall knowledge strategy. Equally important, however, the organization needs to make sure that their users understand what Notes can do for them as individual knowledge workers.
There's a lot of misinformation and even lies concerning Notes in the market place. A product just doesn't survive for 20+ years, and grow, and thrive, without a reason. Notes is a great product, backed by an incredible team of some of the most talented designers and developers in the world. I think Notes is a very powerful tool and, for the right situations, may even be the best tool. But it is still a tool. Meanwhile, Seattle continues to spread misinformation about what Notes can or cannot do and, in the absence of credible response from Big Blue, many assume the accusations to be true. I think that IBM's done a great disservice to Lotus Notes by not actively responding better to the FUD coming from Seattle. Ed Brill's an amazing champion, I greatly value what he does for the Notes community, but end users don't read Ed Brill's blog. While Ed serves a vital and important role, he's preaching to the choir - we already "get" Notes. Ed's responses need to find their way to IBM's marking department and IBM needs to confront the issues head on in public.
While I'm on my soapbox, I'll also mention that I think that IBM needs to give away the designer client with every Notes client. I'll write more on this in a future post, but for now, I'll say that I believe this would do a lot to drive innovation in the Notes space. Not having a designer client is like not allowing the formula editor in Excel. Now, as a former Admin, I can hear the groaning now "we don't want the users to have this power!" Fine, then lock them out or allow them to innovate on local files - which is what I do. But don't stifle the imagination and creativity of the users. There are a great many smart people out there, Notes end users, that would be happy if they could create something. Again, I'll post more soon, but welcome discussion.
Back to the "What's in it for me?" question about Lotus Notes. I think that IBM and many companies send the wrong message when it comes to Notes and this may be why many end users have trouble. IBM and big corporations tell users that Notes is good for Communication (true) Notes is good for Collaboration (also true) and Notes is good for Coordination (very true). All of these things that Notes can do are for the benefit of the organization. But what about the little guy? But what can Lotus Notes do for the individual? I think it can do a lot. Many of my clients -- some of the most productive people in the world -- think so also.
So, the next time you encounter someone that says that they hate Notes, ask them if they a) understand what Notes can do for them and b) if they were ever trained in how to use Notes.
As an eProductivity specialist, I've been showing folks how to use Notes productively for 15+ years. I've also created a product, eProductivity, for people to implement David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology in Lotus Notes. What we are learning from our customers is that, by using Lotus Notes and eProductivity, they are reclaiming up to 30 minutes a day that would otherwise be wasted on managing their work. With eProductivity and the GTD methodology, they are able to work from their lists and maintain control and perspective. Do these people love Notes? You bet. Why? Because we make Lotus Notes personal and they can experience the personal benefits that Lotus Notes has to offer. Guess what? When people personally benefit from using Notes, their entire organization benefits. The productive benefits trickle up through the organization and communication, collaboration, and coordination are all enhanced.
So, Ian, I don't think the world really hates Notes. I think we, the Notes community and IBM, need to do a better job at demonstrating (and communicating) how Notes helps make individual knowledge workers more productive, which will in turn roll up into organizational productivity. Then, more people will tell us that they love Notes.
This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I'm sure that there will be a wide range of view points. I look forward to continuing this conversation.
What do YOU think?