Due to my renewed interest in “Pancakes” I was looking for some info in my archive (yes, the paper one…). In the past I have worked for a company called BSO, founded by Eckart Wintzen. During the years I worked there I was director of a consultancy cell (I’ll explain the term cell later on), technical manager, commercial manager and director in the electronic commerce service line before leaving the company in 1999.
Eckart was a remarkable person, sometimes a bit difficult but always inspiring and, well, very present. He developed the vision that people work best in small teams up to 50 people. And implemented this vision!
When he left in 1996 the company had more than 4000 employees but was divided in units not larger than 50 people, called a Cell (from the biological cell). When a group grew to big it was split up and half the management team and employees started a new cell in a different place. There Board was doing their best not to steer the cells directly but tried to convince. There was almost no middle management (and nobody listened to them anyway). In many ways it was a Pancake organization before the electronic means were there. This was possible because Eckart was one of the few CEO’s that did not like raw power for himself.
Anyway, while looking into my archive I found the letter below that was part of the yearly report of 1995 (the reports were always very special, this one was designed as a folding map were you put in several papers between tabs (some of you elderly people will remember them!). This letter describes (in Dutch) how the Internet is not so much about infrastructure and computers but about connecting people and was written by the director of the McLuhan program (BSO was a sponsor of this program). Quote:
Het beeld van een wereldomspannende netwerkomgeving is niet zozeer dat van een ‘snelweg’ als wel dat van een soort ‘wereldgeest’
The concept of a worldwide network is not as much about a ‘highway’ but more about some sort of world ‘conscience’.
Funny how many of these issues already came together in 1995..