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Back in 2004, we got a call from a client, one of the biggest retail chains in
They mananger said ”We’re drowning in e-mail!”
And we said ”Well, perhaps you need an intranet?”
He said ”We already have an intranet, but nobody is using it!”
So we said ”Maybe you should redesign it?”
He said ”We just did that. It didn’t help!”
So we decided on something else.
map the routes
We said ”Let’s MAP the information.
What information is useful to people?
What works? What information DOESN’T work?
WHERE do they GET it from? How does it travel in the organisation today?
So we interviewed more than 40 people. From the HQ to the truckdrivers to the
store managers to the people sitting at the cash registers.
And of course , they gave us completly different answers.
Interviews with +40 people
What was important to the manager was one thing, to the truck driver
something completely differnet.
How to make sense of that?
But when I analyzed all the answers, I realized that every interview, every
person, had something in common.
It was in the answer ”Which information works well?”
Here you have ONE seconds to guess what.
Hint: it wasn’t the lunch menu.
Everybody’s answer contained A NAME.
A different name, but everyone mentioned A SPECIFIC PERSON.
They said things like
”Information on projects works well because Maggie Smith has a newsletter with
updates, that she sends every thursday”.
Or ”Info on rebates works well, because Carlos Fuentes has an Excel ﬁle with all
numbers on his server, that we can access.
”Info on allergies works well, because Kim Li came to us in November and told
us about her work, so if I need any updates about it, I will contact her.”
And this is when I had a revelation.
I realized that this is ancient.
I realized that this is ancient.
This goes way back, hundreds of thousands of years, or even millions.
To our predecessors on the savannahs of Africa.
And the revelation also turned me, temporarily, into Sir David Attenborough.
This is a skull of Homo erectus, upright man, 1.9 million years ago in Africa.
Replaced the smaller, earlier Homo habilis.
It had some AMAZING new capabilities
Of which the most important was the very ﬁrst intranet.
And language was not only communicartion.
With language came ANOTHER extrordinary ability.
What our predecessors discovered and learned to take advantage of was that ...
... other people’s brains are very smart places to STORE KNOWLEDGE.
Evolution has optimized our brains for social use.
And that is what turned our predecessors into MORE than apes,
That TRANSFORMED them into people. Or in some cases, beetles.
– BORK? – GRAWK!
When information could be SENT, SHARED, STORED and RETRIEVED, it opened
up an ENTIRELY new possiblity for survival.
You could query the database for vital information. Matters of life and death.
Query syntax has changed, obviously -