I love changing people's perspective when they tell me that they hate Lotus Notes or that Notes sucks. In fact, it's given me a whole new outlook when I hear people say "I hate Notes or Notes Sucks." I find that with a little information, most people I speak with will change their view of Notes. Some will even switch. A few weeks ago, at the GTD Summit, I recorded several interviews with people who stopped by our productivity tools exhibit, I had forgotten that I recorded these. After Ed Brill's blog today about how I helped someone convince themselves to switch to Notes, I decided to retrieve my digital voice recorder and download the interviews. I found two interviews that you will find of interest:

Click to hear recording #1: "You mean Notes isn't dead?" (5 Min.)
Meet Tamara - She's an accountant, a devoted Mac user,  but also runs Windows in order to use QuickBooks. She's someone who just discovered that Notes isn't dead and that it even runs on the Mac. (By the way, Tamara is the person that Ed blogged about today.) A few days later, Tamara had migrated her setup from Outlook to Lotus Notes and eProductivity and she tweeted her experience along the way...

A happy Notes camper tweets about her experience.

Click to hear recording #2: "I Hate Lotus Notes" (11 Min)
Meet Dave. He uses Lotus Notes at work and HATES it. (At least I believe he believes he did. I think is simply uninformed.) This is a longer interview but a very interesting one nonetheless.

  • Dave's a software UI engineer focusing on UI (Chris got to meet him; Mary Beth, are you listening?)
  • User Interface on Notes is BAD (I wonder what version he is using)
  • He's on version 7. (He's obviously a smart guyl I wonder if he's ever been trained to use Notes or read book on it?)
  • Never seen any training for notes from his company; it was presented as "here's your email thing"
  • The Notes mail client is not a good mail client - it does not support threading (a perfect setup for me)
  • I show him threading on vanilla Notes 7 (Listen for his response)
  • I can write my own apps that do what Notes does but I can't wrote my own apps in Notes (He needs to see the designer client)
  • (Listen as I share that David Allen wrote his own Notes database 12 years ago; I wish you could have seen his expression.)
  • "Notes is not standards compliant - Notes cannot spell compliant"  (Bruce, Matt, want to chime in?)
  • (Companies have a responsibility to give their employees tools they can use and teach them how to use the tools.)
  • "What can IBM do to help me - an end user - be more productive? Where's the FAQ from IBM?"
  • I ask the question: "What goes through your head when I tell you that David Allen uses Notes?"
  • He's not impressed. Thinks that's fine if David Allen wants to use an outmoded tool. Says "Notes is so last century."
  • My subtle pitch for eProductivity, PlanetLotus.org and the yellow bubble and the Notes on Productivity blog as learning tools.
  • Later that day and the next Dave stopped by and we had several interesting discussionsand he agreed to take another look at how he could use Notes productively.
Both Tamara and Dave had a negative view of Lotus Notes when I first met them and yet in just a few minutes I was able to provide them with new information that caused them to change their thinking about Lotus Notes and what it can do for them. That's the key - make it personal. I appreciate that Dave and Tamara were willing to allow me to record and share these interviews. I learned a lot from them and from the experience. I enjoy and look forward to these discussions. It's fun to see people's facial expressions change when I show them what they can do with Notes. It's like performing magic. However, there's an interesting theme in these interviews - and I have done hundreds: I've found that almost everyone I have spoken to that says they hate notes is an intelligent individual that was simply handed Notes with little or no training and no encouragement from IBM.

Isn't it tragic that companies sabotage their investment by not training their users and that IBM makes users feel ignored and neglected (unloved?) for using what they perceive as an uncool and dead product?

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Apple duel over how to best show ordinary people how cool it is to use their products.

My two cents:

1. This is not about technology. Notes is clearly a capable product and the Notes team have done a fine job with it - I can point you to many smart people doing extraordinary things with Notes.
2. I think IBM needs to show people that Notes is cool and productive and that there are a lot of really intelligent people that choose to use IBM Lotus Notes for what it can do for them .
3. It's all about market perception.

What do you think?

Discussion/Comments (2):

Paul Gardner (http://paulgardner.info): 4/3/2009 7:28:12 PM
I’m learning more about Notes daily thanks to eProductivity

I'm one of the "I hate(d) Lotus Notes" brigade, (someone who thought they hated Lotus Notes only to see the light thanks to the work done by Eric Mack with eProductivity), and I'm learning daily about new things Lotus Notes can do.

I'm blogging my journey and have so far posted mostly about implementing eProductivity and GTD. This has involves the practical side of things and some of the benefits from the implementation.

Maybe I need to start commenting on the power of Lotus Notes when it is correctly implemented - That is, not simply slapped on our computers with basic instructions on how to email. Because, I agree with Eric, Lotus Notes actually is cool... (Never thought I'd hear myself say that!)

Come on IBM, start showing us just how cool and innovative Lotus Notes can actually be.

Erik Brooks (): 4/3/2009 7:58:35 PM
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t really suck

Great to hear. Maybe the IBM Marketing "Air Cover" will eventually help out here by actually showing the product to the masses.

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