To CC Or Not To CC

That is the question.

September 23, 2014

Who should be CC’d?  

Never before in the history of humankind has so much energy been spent on so delicate a point of etiquette.  

CC too many people and you overwhelm inboxes, burn your opportunity to get attention for your messages when you really need it, and risk appearing as a tushy covering lackey.  CC too few people and you run the risk of failing to share information, failing to keep colleagues in the loop, and failing to live up to the cultural norms of either hierarchal or egalitarian workplaces.

My theory is that those of us in the middle of our organizations CC the most.

I’m picturing a normal curve of CC, with organizational power running along the x-axis.  The y-axis is the number of people CC’d on the average e-mail.  That number peaks at mid-power, and declines steadily the higher the organizational juice factor climbs.  College presidents and CEOs CC very little.

This theory begs the question, can a career be advanced by CC’ing less?  Can we reverse the polarity on the causality?  Consciously CC less to gain more institutional and organizational authority?

Forget Lean In.  I’m thinking CC Less.  

You will immediately be viewed by our peers and our betters as possessing that indefinable but we know it when we see it potential for leadership.   Forget all those leadership programs that we are constantly lamenting that we are not attending.  The power is at your fingertips and on all those screens that you spending your life gazing at.  Stop sharing information and see your career flourish.  

What if we replaced the CC with the tons of one-person e-mails?  If instead of CC’ing, we simply sent that same information as individual electronic missives.  The rule would be to never put anyone on an e-mail chain unless that person is specifically referenced by name in the first line.  Maybe not as intimate as a hand-penned note, but probably as good as we are going to get in the age of the phablet.  

Do we have any rigorous experiments on the relationship between e-mail behavior and career success?  Is CC culture regional, industry, or even campus specific?  Do really successful people CC differently from me and you?

What is your CC strategy?

Note:  According to Dr. Google, there are 2,630 results that match the query ""To CC Or Not To CC: That is the question.”

The headline came to my brain independently (as best as I can determine), although in the age of Google can you still use a turn of phrase that is your idea, but not your idea first?


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