The problem: it was noticed that the further away from the central authority of the church, the message of the church became diluted.
Imagine a missionary starts in Rome with his message. Spends 10 years walking, teaching and preaching, then goes back home to Rome for a quick vacation. A year later begins walking the same path. What they found was that nobody could remember what the church leader had originally said. Like a game of telephone where the message is repeated over and over again for 10 years, the message naturally changed.
The problem they had to solve was how to make sure that the message in Rome was the same message being taught anywhere else in the world. Then remain the same year after year.
In 325 the council of Nicea was the equivalent of a modern day business retreat for the high level leaders. Constantine, (the new leader of Rome) wanted to back the Christians but the Christians couldn’t agree on the vision and teachings of the church. During the council of Nice a vision, strategy and tactics were created.
- The vision: was a worldwide church with a standard belief system
- The strategy: was to gather all the information and write it all down. These writings became the vision statement of the church.
- The tactic: The vision could then be distributed and the vision could be maintained no matter how far away the congregation was from the original church.
It seemed like a great idea, but as with many good ideas there was another problem. How to create enough copies of the vision to distribute to the entire world?
The Solution was interesting, the church created a tradition. In this tradition every Christian noble family’s third son would become a monk. The third son would be taught to read and write and would go to the church monasteries. Then spend a lifetime copying bible pages by hand. When completed, these bibles would be handed off to teams of priests. The priest’s job it was to build churches and build congregations. When completed, each congregation would be left with a church leader trained in the vision and with the ultimate authority to interpret the vision for the congregation.
The church quickly grew. This information strategy became the basis for the church growth. The church found that growth was limited only by the number of bibles that could be copied. The growth of the church became limited to the number of bibles that could be written and distributed. This went on for about 1000 years until in 1440 everything changed almost overnight with a guy named Guttenberg…
Up until Gutenberg’s time an average monk could copy about 1 page a day with spurts up to 20 pages. An average bible could take 2000 or more monk hours to copy. With the printing press this changed from 1 page a day to 3400 pages per day from one printing press team! The church embraced the technology.
One of the interesting effects of new technology was that the ultimate vision and strategy of the church never needed to change. By changing the tactics the vision and strategy were still supported, while increasing the productivity by 1000’s of times what it had been previously. Expansion of the organization was able to grow at a new rate because the previous limitations were eliminated. Very quickly everything changed.
Major changes like this every 1000 years seems manageable… nobody could deal with change that was any faster could they? Well about 400 years later there was another major technological change… The type writer…
The limitation of the printing press was always customized messages. Hand written letters were still the norm in 1844 for a customized document. The typewriter changed this. The typewriter allowed the business owner to print customized letters for each and every customer or staff member. Twenty fast typists could type as many pages as a printing team 400 years earlier. By combining 100’s of professional typists in one room the concept of the “Typing Pool” was invented.
Again the strategy still didn’t need to change. The goal was to share the vision of the organization with customers and internally to the staff. The strength of the organization was the power of the vision a business owner brought to the organization. This continues to be the information strategy and IT Consulting companies. The more effectively that vision was spread the more successful the business became.
Obviously each information technology just speeds that vision. Information Technology is not about the technology but rather about spreading the vision of the organization. Industries focused on a technology rather than the information, lose their way.