In 1945, Vannevar Bush published an article titled As We May Think, which provided an early vision of how new technologies and tools could enhance the way in which humans are able to learn and collaborate.
By 1962, Douglas Engelbart – best known as the inventor of the mouse – had expanded Bush’s idea further in his paper Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, which explored the somewhat radical idea at the time that computers could be used to enhance human capabilities, instead of simply performing computations (and instead of taking over human work altogether, as some early Artificial Intelligence enthusiasts were touting).
Throughout my career, I’ve been fascinated by the idea that the tools we build can profoundly impact our ability and efficiency in getting work done. Many of my side projects in the past have involved working with and learning from colleagues who are experts in collaboration and operational excellence, such as Doug Engelbart, Eugene Eric Kim at Blue Oxen Associates and later Groupaya, and Peter Yim at CIM3 Engineering.
At Siri, the startup company that Apple acquired in 2010, we built a product that changed the world through conversation. Although known originally as a digital personal assistant, it didn’t replace any human ones. Rather, Siri provided people with a whole new way to interact with their devices and other people. Siri helped improve efficiency by making previously difficult things much easier.
Now, coming to BetterWorks, I’m excited to be joining a team that is thinking deeply about operational excellence. We want to help companies be more transparent with their goals, and give individuals greater insight into how work gets done within their team, their department and their company.
Achieving operational excellence is a life-long pursuit for many. BetterWorks co-founder Di Wu speaks often about his belief that people should aim to do 1% better every day. At BetterWorks, employees call themselves BetterWorkers, and their ongoing commitment really is to be a better worker each and every day. It always reminds me of a quote attributed to none other than Doug Engelbart, “The better we get at getting better, the faster we will get better.”
I can’t wait to see what we’re able to achieve together here at BetterWorks.