As a knowledge worker, part of working productively is having confidence in the tools that you use. For myself and David Allen, Lotus Notes is our productivity platform of choice and we can't help but share how we enjoy using it. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the same passion and vision for Lotus Notes as a powerful tool for knowledge work as we do. Sometimes, people even complain, blog, Tweet, or otherwise make it known that they are unhappy with Lotus Notes.

Fortunately, we have a strong Yellow community that helps one another. (more on that in a moment)

Today, Scott Hooks blogged about his insights helping people see Notes differently in his post: Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much. His timing couldn't be better and I find it refreshing to see people reaching out to make a difference.

As a Chief Lotus Advocate, Scott makes it a point to find unhappy Notes users and offer to help them. Scott makes two observations that I want to point out:
Each time I spotted one [a complaint about Notes], I would reply to it and offer assistance if they would provide more detail. Most people didn't respond. My hypothesis is that most people don't want to have their minds changed about something they "like to dislike."
Like Scott, I've found that with a few minutes of discussion, I can often help people change their thinking about Notes.

Scott continues with his observation:
...However, most that did, quickly revealed that their complaints were not actually legitimate "suckage" of Lotus Notes, but rather poor implementation, poor management, or lack of training. Many were running 6.0, which is 6 or 7 years old now. Now wonder they're displeased.
This has been my experience as well. I have less of a problem with older versions of Notes as I do with the way I see many companies deploy the product - with little (or no) training or instruction in how to use it as a tool for personal productivity and collaboration. It's as if they somehow expect that collaboration will simply happen because they got the tool installed. No wonder they are disappointed. Fortunately, a discussion will usually do wonders there, too.

Thank you, Scott, for your post. (I would have left a comment, but they seem to be off.)

Now a Yellow Moment: Yesterday, Tamara, who self-installed Notes on her Mac and her PC, after learning about Lotus Notes at the GTD Summit, blogged about her frustration with Lotus Notes. I tweeted about it this morning. Within an hour I has emails from Jim Casale and Bill Malchisky offering to help. Then, I saw on Twitter that Chris Blatnick and others were responding, too. Apparently, Tamara's now overwhelmed with offers of assistance. How cool is that!

It's nice to see the Lotus Community pitch in and help a novice Notes user solve her issues.

Well done Yellowverse!

Discussion/Comments (5):

Jim Casale ( 5/14/2009 3:56:45 PM
Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)

"Scott continues with his observation:

...However, most that did, quickly revealed that their complaints were not actually legitimate "suckage" of Lotus Notes, but rather poor implementation, poor management, or lack of training. Many were running 6.0, which is 6 or 7 years old now. Now wonder they're displeased."

Correct on all points! I have to deal with this everyday - users complaining that Notes doesn't do this, or Notes can't do that. In reality it's just like you and Scott have stated - implementation, management, training, and I would add, policies.

Just one time I am going to tell the user... "Well if you weren't running a Notes client 4 releases back you wouldn't have these issues"

Kyle (): 5/29/2009 10:06:28 AM
Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)

Believe me I don't "like to dislike" Lotus Notes!

I really, REALLY NEED for it to actually do what I want it to do. My productivity has taken a death-spiral nose dive because of Lotus. Unfortunately the company I work for has forced this vile application upon us all. And just to be clear it's not just me who 'strongly dislikes' Lotus Notes 8 ... the only positive comment I've heard so far is, "Gee that new instant messaging thing is neat" ... the other 99.99999% of comments that I've heard would probably upset you.

It’s a horrible interface. You can’t complete what should be a simple task because what logically makes sense to us end users isn’t how it actually works, oh no! You have to click 800 billion different menus that don’t even make any sort of sense with regards to what you’re trying to accomplish. And right clicking to accomplish something simple almost never works. That function/feature is buried in about 5 levels of hell ... I mean menus, my bad.

It’s like Lotus has some axe to grind with any formerly happy Microsoft user by being intentionally designed to fly in the face of standard Microsoft computing function making it so monumentally frustrating to anyone who has spent the past couple of decades using Microsoft applications.

If you’re serious about wanting to help end users hate Lotus Notes 8 less then please let me know and I will gladly compile a hit list of my most hated Lotus issues.

Eric Mack ( 6/1/2009 11:08:19 PM
re: Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)

Hi Kyle,

Thanks for your comments.

I would definitely like to receive your Notes gripe list. While I cannot personally fix anything, I know the people at IBM who can.

Also, I would be most interested to get our feedback on

If you want to follow steps 1-4 in Getting Started, I will send you an extended eval key at no charge. I simply want the perspective of an unhappy Notes user and that's worth a license to me.


ted22 (): 6/22/2009 7:47:01 AM
Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)

Notes is great as a productivity destroyer. I can go through 30 emails on Outlook in the time it takes to look at one, read the attachment and file it. It's a horrible excuse for an email client. There are some doc management capabilities that are good, but those are used infrequently compared to email which most people use constantly.

I've seen enough organizations implement this, then suffer with it, then finally see the light. I wish mine would!

Eric Jewett ( 6/3/2010 12:01:23 PM
Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)

I think even intelligent professionals behave like baby ducks - they imprint on whatever they started using and have upgraded through and nothing else looks right. I'll admit that I came into Notes around 3.0 from mainframe text-based messaging. You absorb the logic of the menus. New features are added, but into a known context. It is natural that I would continue to gravitate toward Notes as being philosophically "right" and anything else as not. I would guess some motivated educational psychology student could turn that into a thesis.

If all I did was email, I probably would not be passionate about it. Being able to extend email or solve business problems and workflow with a reasonable effort is golden.

Discussion for this entry is now closed.