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Another $7 System


Another $7 System

Several weeks ago, I wrote about building at IT system for only $7. In Enchantment, author Guy Kawasaki shares a story from Richard Fawal that illustrates the concept so well, I want to share it here:

In the 1980’s, I worked for political campaigns. We used index cards with contact information, political precinct, and volunteering preference to keep track of supporters. We could only sort them one way at a time, so we spent hours re-sorting, and it was impossible to get a global view of volunteer assets.

One evening, a colleague arrived with packs of sticky notes in different colors, and I resisted: “What the hell are those for?” She wouldn’t tell me, but she said she was going to solve all our problems. I was skeptical that little pieces of colored paper could help up. The next morning, I was amazed by what I saw.

On the walls hung dozens of ledger-sized pages. Each page had a precinct number written on it and was covered in different colored stickies containing supporters’ names and contact information. The colors represented volunteer preferences.

With nothing but sticky notes she had created a system to quickly find anyone we needed by name, precinct, or preference. It was a beautiful map that let us see where we were weak and strong, and which tasks were more and less popular. It changed the way I saw everything.

Using only index cards, copy paper, and sticky notes, Fawal’s colleague built a very visual and highly-modular analog database of campaign volunteers. How many of you, after reading this story, found yourselves wondering what she does now? I know I did, and I’m confident that whatever it is, she’s highly successful at it and is the best problem-solver at that organization.

What can you build for $7?

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Many thanks to Guy Kawasaki for sharing this story in his book (on page 94 for those interested) and to Richard Fawal for sharing this story with Kawasaki.

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