in Thoughts & Ideas

It doesn’t have to be crazy at Work: Takeaways

Here are some notes I had to take while reading this great book. Probably more to come.

  • Asynchronous first. Emergencies that require immediate action rarely ever happen. Create an environment where people don’t feel obliged to answer immediately. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call the fire departement if there’s a real fire to put out.
  • Office Hours. It’s great to have a lot of knowledge available in your company. Constant distractions to tap into that knowledge suck. Let everybody define their own office hours. That way you know you won’t be bugging Joe if you approach him Thursday between 9 and 12.
  • Heartbeats. Every team writes an internal blog post about what they’ve been up to the past month/week. It’s a great way to let everybody take part in past achievements and problems without having time and soul draining meetings.
  • Treat your company like a product. It needs to evolve and improve over time. Too many companies create new products but never question how they do it.
  • Present in Writing. Encourage new ideas be presented in written form. Meetings enforce immediate reactions which are often not the most thoughtful ones. Written presentations allow for more clam and substantial reactions.
  • Don’t rely on a single source of revenue. When you’re afraid of loosing the most important customer you’re in danger of letting them talk into your product and business decisions.
  • Lead by example. You cannot create a calm environment with sane hours and concentrated people if you don’t practice these values yourself
  • Encourage a calm working environment. Allow remote work and flexible working times.
  • Encourage your employees to take time off and feel good about it.
  • Trust reduces bureaucracy. For example, at Basecamp every employee gets a company credit card and doesn’t have to ask anybody permission to use it. Because if you can’t trust someone to spend $200 wisely why would you hire them in the first place? 
  • Work in clearly defined cycles and stick with them. For Basecamp,  periods of 6 weeks work best to create any new feature. If it takes more than that it’s probably to complex and should be broken in smaller chunks. Your perfect timeframe may vary – experiment and find out. If it becomes clear that a goal won’t be achieved on time the scope needs to be reduced while still creating something shippable. No crazy all-nighters and no expansion of the timeframe.

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  1. DHH liked this article on twitter.com.