We may seem like a young company, but trust us, we have origins in Nordic mythology. This is the story of us – the one that connects ancient wisdom with today’s world and future technology.
Norse mythology views the cosmos as a set of nine distinct worlds. Each world has their own inhabitants. Humans live on Midgard, the gods live in Asgard, giants live in Jotunheim, etc. The thing that connects all nine worlds together is the giant cosmic tree, Yggdrasil. If you’re from Norway, the chances are you heard of it. If not, pronounce it ”IG-druh-sill”, while trying to sound like a Viking.
This idea of the ultimate Family Tree, the backbone of existence, the road connecting the different faces of life – this is something we firmly believe in. Not only because of our Viking roots, but because, time and time again, we have witnessed this powerful connections between people, and also departments at work.
Some time ago the founders of JOIN21 set onto a task of bringing systemic organizational change that would improve collaboration, innovation and value creation in a global telecom. We collected all sorts of data from the business units of Telenor and were able to document how was knowledge flowing across departments and countries. What was invisible by looking at hierarchy and formal connections, we saw ever so clearly through data. We were amazed by this huge, untapped potential this secret network showed.
The more we decoded it, the more it looked like that old, Nordic tree of life. The myth tells of different creatures living in the tree, whose equivalents we found live & kicking in the huge global organization. For example, Odin, chief of the gods, spent his time traveling along the branches, visiting each world, just like CEO or top management would go through siloes, while doing nothing to strengthen their connections. The legendary squirrel Ratatosk scurried up and down the tree to deliver messages, often causing troubles and rumors to spread. Just like gate-keepers and integrators often do in a network – instead of connecting, they can further block, spoil or slow down the flow of information.
The more we looked at the inner mechanics of an organization, the more we realized its traps and good sides resonated with how people live and work in networks. That’s how the idea of network leadership crystallized as something we want to help build and nurture.
Since then, we’ve built amazing tools aimed at scanning the informal network of any organization, platforms for strengthening the links or developing new branches on that tree top. We’ve learned how to motivate sharing and foster openness among different worlds to ultimately build a sum that’s bigger and stronger than all its parts. There are 3 principles we base our work on:
Horizontally across all departments and vertically through positions and seniority. Only by doing so can each of us learn from another.
Digitalization should serve people, not the other way around.
The road to innovation and value in a company leads through bringing together people with different skill sets and different knowledge.