Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Simple Truth About Emails

I came across this five-star quote from John McCain.....spoken this week....over the Hillary email business (pulled from Yahoo's article this morning):

"I don't email at all.  I have other people and I tell them to email because I am just always worried I might say something. I am not the most calm and reserved person you know? I am afraid I might email something that in retrospect I wish I hadn't."

For years, I worked in the Air Force around pilot commanders who at the age of forty-five....had a very short fuse to saying stupid things and dumping a one-star idea onto a bunch of folks without any thought to consequences.

What I eventually figured out is that pilots live by a short checklist that they carry on their lap for flights.  They have points to hit, and if some mechanical issue arrives.....there's a page in their little floppy book where they are supposed to do 'X' number of steps to rectify the situation, or bail-out.  It's cut and dry.  There's no pause and ponder structured into their lives.....you evaluate the situation over eight seconds, make a life-or-death situation, and live with consequences.

They take this mentality into the office or division......working issues with a eight-second automatic reaction.  Some things work perfect.....some things get smoothed out later with some captain who dreams up the forty-step process to solve what the Colonel did wrong.....and some things fail miserably with medals or citations awarded to everyone for their jubilant effort at a screwed up mess.

I worked on a base where some eight-second decision was made and a kid's play-park was established, with around $150,000 spent on landscaping, playground equipment, and trees.  Between 400 man-hours of 'donated-time' (what we call in the Air Force as volunteer efforts)....a fairly decent park was established.....in an area of the base that wasn't near base housing, or anything that drew kids.  A year or two later....I asked one guy if he ever saw any kids at the playground, and he just grinned.  He responded that teenagers would hang out at the stupid park on weekend nights, consume beer, and the whole project was considered a complete failure.

Senator McCain probably got saved forty or fifty times from email comments, and he eventually got someone to impress upon him that his eight-second reaction time and commentary....didn't help situations very well.  He learned a lesson.

I look over at Hillary and think that she created this non-government email account for one single purpose.....sending a draft email to someone who would review it and tell her to tone down her comments or deleted the bulk of her comments down to six lines instead of eighty lines of garbage.

Who read her 'drafts'?  Unknown.  Maybe Bill did.....maybe her daughter.....maybe some hired guy from France.....who knows?

The curious thing here is that we survived from 1776 to the late 1990s without email within the US government.  If you had something to say.....you'd call in some secretary who you'd dictate a twelve-line typed letter.  "Wanda" would hear your talk....write the draft on paper.....stop you at various points and suggest a kinder and gentlemanly approach to addressing someone.  "Wanda" might soften your tone.  "Wanda" might straighten you out on facts, or sharpen your emphasis to one single point.

Thousands of "Wanda" secretaries in DC....made communications work up until the late 1990s.  Then computers, emails, and servers arrived.  Folks fired their secretaries and then started writing their own stuff.  Then they discovered that their bluntness, their lack of a central theme, and general poor communications talents.....left them with marginal success.

If Bill Gates really wanted to fix Microsoft and improve the world of communications.....he ought to create some software package called "Wanda"....which takes your marginal draft emails and suggests ways to improve or fix the message you want sent out.

As for Hillary?  Well....that Jefferson kid did Ok without ever sending out a single email in his life.  Maybe Hillary ought to just clean up her act and vow never to email again.  We never hear bad things about John McCain's emails, or lack of emails.....well....do we?