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...

Here, posted with her permission, is her testimony:
Eric, I can't begin to tell you how happy I am with the Lotus Notes/eProductivity combo. Everything I've tried to do in Outlook, I either couldn't do to my satisfaction or it was too much of a hassle to maintain. It's very easy to jump into and I've, so far, found that it has actually helped me process my inbox quicker. I'm looking forward to coming in on Monday and tackling my weekly review. NEVER thought I'd say that.

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 (6):

Paul Gardner (http://paulgardner.info): 04/03/2009 19:28:12
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 (): 04/03/2009 19:58:35
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.

Patrick Mackaaij (http://www.eenmanierom.nl/): 05/12/2009 12:08:05
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t really suck

This is also what I meant to say in my Dutch post:

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Google Translated to English:

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I hope eProductivity and GTD can help Lotus Notes become more popular.

Tobin (): 07/23/2009 19:14:06
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t really suck

I have found the non email parts of notes to be really great but so far all that I have seen is no more nifty than sharepoint.

However the email portion is honesty the worst interface for email I have had to use. PROFS on the mainframe was a less annoying client and believe me it sucked. The lack of keyboard shortcuts, at least now it comes up with numbers for the fields when I hit the alt key. But I should be able to ctrl-r or some such simple key combo to reply not alt, wait 2 seconds for it to paint in the numbers over the buttons or just plain I HAVE TO USE THE MOUSE which had to be done with our previous version. (no excuses for having to rely on a mouse). Now it is mostly the lack of common to every other windows app keyboard shortcuts that annoy me, F5 logs me out, WTF? when that is a refresh for every other application under the sun. No I don't care how nifty it is the UI is a pain. Again it may be my companies implementation as the only differences I can see with 8 over 6.5 is prettier icons and smoother graphics.

Matt (): 06/19/2011 16:36:23
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t really suck

I am an IBMer and use notes on a daily basis. A lot of the comments here are about how users who say that notes is bad just haven't had training. It is my belief that good software should allow even an untrained user to accomplish 80% of what they need to do without training. There are lots of really silly things with notes that are just poorly designed. for example, why bug me incessantly about my out of office notification being on? If you know it's on, why not just turn it off after the date of return which I specified when I turned it on in the first place?

On the mac, I cannot send mail without using the mouse. Why?

I admit there are lots of good things about notes too, but there are so many silly quirks in the UI that should be fixed, thus allowing people to move on with the superficial complaints and dig into the power that lies beneath the horrible exterior.

Nathan (): 01/28/2013 6:35:56
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t really suck

A couple comments:

I never needed training to use Outlook, Gmail, or Hotmail. I shouldn't -need- it for Notes either. Maybe some guidance to work better within the environment or be more of a power user but training to use basic email and calendar?? However, searching online (even on the IBM site) does not lead to useful help. I can easily find a primer, training set, or online book on outlook or gmail.

You mention email threads in your discussion. You are correct, in 8 it is easy to turn that feature on and off. However, if you want it on get used to the banner that says "You are seeing: only latest response for each e0mail conversation" because it never goes away.

Discussion for this entry is now closed.