Deciding who needs to know information is an uncertain endeavor. That’s even more true now. Sending and receiving too many messages coming from all directions is just what happens for everyone these days.

It’s frustrating, though, when you discover, after-the-fact, that someone decided to play the role of Editor and spare you yet another email. The problem is when you learn about the email, after-the-fact, and immediately realize that you (okay, I) needed to know the information that somebody decided themselves was unnecessary.

When this happened recently, I leapt into Mike mode and started imagining a checklist of questions to figure out who should be on the address line for that email I never received.


Here’s the question list. Testing it out, it should work to avoid missing critical people:

  1. Who will receive questions about the topic?
  2. Who will be around when people have questions and are looking for someone (anyone) to answer them?
  3. Who is going to be asking questions about this?
  4. Who is in charge of all the question askers and answerers?
  5. Who provided the current answer?
  6. Who will (or needs to) document the answer?
  7. Who will (help) implement the answer?

I’m not suggesting that everyone you list absolutely must get the email. If not letting any individuals know about the issue and answer is more likely than not to leave them (or worse yet, someone who is depending on that individual to answer) at a loss, though, go ahead. Be bold. Add any of these individuals to the email.

What’s one more email going to hurt, anyway?

Especially if you’ve readied them to look informed, smart, and competent. They’ll appreciate that you decided to shoot one more email into that already inundated inbox. – Mike Brown

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