Tuesday 27 August 2013

Assessing a Project's Success by the Out of Office Auto Reply, the Birthday Paradox and Speed

It maybe that time of the year in the UK when last minute vacations are taken just before the children go back to school - but, are you really ever contactable these days?

For me, the message is pretty clear. If I have to send to someone's email and get a bounce back out of auto office auto reply, I make a mental note: Give Up and Move On.

I have never, like never used a gmail Out of Office AutoReply - that's why I've framed it and posted it here. I have no clue what one looks like.

Another tactic is to send a coworker's email to deflect the message. It's worth looking at the birthday
paradox here again. Put simply, it's the amount of possible connections in a given group.

Sir Tony Hall from the BBC is on the right track (at last). He recently identified Google as getting stuff done in very small teams where the BBC have to speak to more than two dozen. I remember hearing another BBC guy talking and said the meeting he attended, by the time everyone had said Hello, half an hour was gone.

So, as an example, have a look at how you work and what the group connections look like. A single person decides alone. Two people speak to each other. Three people - three connections.

Using some math, we have group number times by one less, then decided by two.

So, a team of four people: six connections. A full hangout of 10 uses 45 connections.

A BBC team of 25 people has a whopping 300 possible connections.

So, next time you get an out of office auto reply - ask yourself, Does this person work for themselves, a small group or a corporation? And what is their motivation? And more importantly, if fast is better than slow - how do I get stuff done?

And in case you are wondering the BBC employ 23,000 where Google have 44,777. The old argument used to be, the BBC are so big - they take so much time to change. Hopefully, that day is over.

I posted on the Birthday Paradox in Sept 2011. There is more on this and the 1973 work called The Strength of Weak Ties by Mark Granovetteror even this short video..

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