Track to the Future

It was only a quick question… “if I forward an email, can other people see that I have done so?”

‘Pretty straightforward’, I opined… yet on further thought, it was a much smarter question than I gave credit for… and one that illustrated a couple of underlying truths or trends.

No Slacking

Now I am someone who has grown up with email… I have a fondness for Outlook, and dare I say, Lotus Notes and ccMail too!

But, rather than taking this perspective let’s view it from the perspective of someone (likely younger) who has grown up with social media, Slack, or Snapchat as their primary forms of communication instead.

Here, everything is tracked; You can instantly see if a message has been delivered, read, or forwarded. And, from this perspective, the question suddenly makes a lot of sense. Why, of course, should a forwarded email not be visible?

Now for most of us in the world of work, and especially for those over 30, we know the answer – forwarding an email is not trackable – generally speaking at least. That is the way legacy email works.

But, taking a step back, and despite the actual answer, who in fact is making the safer assumption and is better prepared for communication in the 21st century?

Is it those in the email paradigm, with assumptions around communication is not being tracked, or the (younger) part where a base assumption is that everything can be tracked, and visible, somewhere where you need to be careful?… all of a sudden, I feel old!

Recently I have spent a fair bit of time discovering and discussing cybersecurity, and it’s been quite concerning.

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It is not only what we see, but also what’s going on under the surface (the stuff that we are not aware of) that is troubling. New technology, hacking techniques and even social engineering is increasingly being used.

Yet the level of awareness, for most of us, is really not where it needs to be.

It is easy to be caught out, get surprised – all of which can result in a lot of complications that need to be resolved. This can happen even more easily if our paradigms of how the world works are stuck in the past too.

The Open Ocean

‘The old days’, where we worked in smaller communities, knew people, trusted and (dare I say) had even met them, are fading fast… it was a warmer but smaller pond back then.

Now it seems we are increasingly being thrust into the global ocean, cold, dark and less explored. Undoubtedly possibilities seem endless, yet the dangers are more ever-present… and our guard needs to be up.

Despite this, the underlying truth from the question was actually something quite reassuring.

Younger generations are far more prepared for swimming in this new reality than someone, like myself, who finds some of this unfamiliar.

They have the sense to ask the right questions and be cautious by nature. By doing so, they are much better prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities out there.

For the rest of us… it is not quite time to close the spreadsheets and put the permanent out-of-office message on just yet… but as ever it is worth listening and observing the little things to see how things are changing. It helps us be flexible and adapt.

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Remember not all is lost; we can change our paradigms too… 🙂 Now, where are my slippers?

Have a good weekend, everyone.


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