in Communication

Why Email Is the Most Popular Project Management Tool?


It’s hard to get people to use things. That’s why email is still the most popular project management tool. Yes, email. Its 2014 and the preferred tool for project management is something created in the early 1990s. So why do so many people use email when there are many different options available to them? Simple…familiarity trumps logic.

Logic is being able to reason based on set principles that are valid. It’s logical not to smoke, because there are scientific facts stating smoking tobacco is harmful to your health. But people still smoke, even though they know it’s harmful to them. Why? Understanding why people defy logic can help us understand why email is still the most popular project management tool.

People Hate Change

It’s no secret that people don’t like change. We’re creatures of habit (evident in the fact this man has eaten 25,000 Big Macs since 1972). Making changes disrupts the balance of your life and people will do everything they can to avoid upsetting their daily routines. Three major reasons why people don’t like change are:

Everything is New – This is the number one culprit to resisting change. Everything is different, and you have to break habits that you’ve established over time. Your routines, whether it’s food, exercise, or work, develop a level of muscle memory. If you switch from a manual car to an automatic one, you’ll probably reach for the stick out of sheer instinct.

Loss of Control – When an individual loses control, they lose their sense of security. We’re comfortable when we know our surroundings and what’s going to happen. Remove this feeling and it’s replaced by an unsettling feeling. Generally people don’t like to voluntarily bring this feeling upon ourselves.

More Work – Change means you have to learn something new. When you’re confronted with a situation where everything is different, and you’ve lost your sense of control, you have to adapt to regain control and make everything familiar again.

Is It Logical to Resist Change?

Let’s examine why someone would use email instead of a proper project management tool. As an outsider, it’s logical to choose a different tool that’s more functional. It will ultimately be a positive change in the long-term. But as an actual user, this is an illogical choice. You’re creating unnecessary short-term problems, and it’s illogical to bring this upon yourself. So how do you break this stalemate of logic?

In most cases, you don’t. People are stubborn and just won’t change. But for the people that can see the logic behind your solution, it’s all about convincing them of the benefits. Long-term benefits must outweigh the short-term inconvenience.

Changing someone’s mindset and patterns is not an easy task. That’s why email still reigns supreme in project management. In our next post, we’ll take a deeper look at how you can convince someone that change is actually good for them.

[Featured Image Courtesy of Matt Wilson]

  • CaptBob

    Email is and will be continued to be used because it can be easily archived and retrieved at a far later date in the future. It acts like paper, but has a lot more advantages. In the world of complex problems requiring long-term active resolution, the record is as or more important than the convenience of the medium.

    I routinely review emails sent in the 1980s regarding political issues. There’s no way I can retrieve my WELL or AOL discussions from that time period. Yesterday, I located and forwarded correspondence regarding an issue worth $900million from the year’s 2000-2003, which I still store locally.

    There currently isn’t media that can behave like that, other than paper, which has it’s own problems.