Keeping it Real

As part of Chicago Ideas Week leading up to TEDxMidwest, I had the
opportunity to visit 37 Signals,a Chicago-based software firm, and
meet co-founder Jason Fried. Jason is also co-author of the book
Rework, which was published last March and writes Inc.’s Get Real

Jason is an interesting guy, and I though others might like to hear a
bit of what he said:

37 Signals believes in staying small – they have just 9 developers and
5 designers. They typically pair 2 programmers with one designer to
create a feedback loop for broaching the inevitable tradeoffs which
occur in product development

Jason’s leadership style can be boiled down to this: get to know
people, find out what matters to them, and give them interesting
things to do. Everyone occasionally rotates through product support
to both build empathy and stay in touch with customers.

It’s consistent actions which define a culture.

It’s important that companies have a point of view… Be honest and
open about what you believe in. It’s going to turn some people off an
light up others. That’s OK.

It’s about principles and not plans.

People get hired at 37 signals by doing a week-long project for which
they are paid $1500. They also use a personality test called Caliper
to evaluate fit of candidates.

Career paths are flat. It’s not the right place for people who want
to be managers. 37 Signals values people who are good at their craft
and want to keep doing it. Salaries keep going up so people are paid
like managers, but keep doing the work they love to do.

Product roasts were recently initiated inviting all to poke fun at
current offerings. More here

His closing thoughts? Solve real problems, not imaginary ones.

© October 2011 by Pam Daniels.  All rights reserved.


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