Book:  It Doesn't Have to be Crazy at Work

Author:  Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Fried, J. & Hansson, D. (2018). It doesn't have to be crazy at work. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Big Takeaways & Key Ideas:

  • Working 40 hours a week is plenty. Plenty of time to do great work, plenty of time to get the important stuff done. So that's how long we work at Basecamp. During the summer, we even take Fridays off and still get plenty of good stuff done in just 32 hours. And what doesn't get done in 40 hours by Friday picks up again on Monday. If you can't fit everything you want to do within 40 hours per week, you need to get better at picking what to do, not work longer hours. Most of what we think we have to do, we don't have to do at all. It's a choice, and often it's a poor one. (pg. 41)

  • Management shouldn't hold up certain people having a great "work ethic" because they're always around, always available, always working. That's a terrible example of a work ethic and a great example of someone who's overworked. Work ethic is about being fundamentally a good person that others can count on and enjoy working with. (pg. 52)

  • We don't require anyone to broadcast their whereabouts or availability. No requirements for them to be in their office at work, no need to let us know when they're working remotely. "But how do you know if someone's working if you can't see them?" Same answer as this question: "How do you know if someone's working if you can see them? You don't. The only way to know if work is getting done is by looking at the actual work. That's the boss's job. If they can't do the job, they should find another one. (pg. 65)

  • We've tried to create a culture of eventual response rather than immediate response. One where everyone doesn't lose it if the answer to a non urgent question arrives three hours later. This is a culture where we not only accept but strongly encourage people not to check email or text for long stretches of uninterrupted time. Give it a try. Say something, then get back to work. Don't expect anything. You'll get a response when the other person is free and ready to respond. And if someone doesn't get back to you right away, it's not because they're ignoring you - it's probably because they're working. (pg. 68)

  • Consider giving your employees three-day weekends all summer. This allows everyone to take Friday off, or Monday off, so they can have a full three-day weekend, every weekend, all summer long. Also, consider giving a $100 monthly fitness allowance. Pay for people's health club membership, yoga classes, running shoes, race registrations, or whatever else thy do to stay healthy on a regular basis. (pg. 117)

  • While the act of letting someone go is unpleasant and all involved, it's a moment in time. It passes. And people will be curious about what happened to their co-worker. Why aren't they here any more? Who's next? Could it be me? If you don't clearly communicate to everyone else why someone was let go, the people who remain at the company will come up with their own story to explain it. These stories will almost certainly be worse than the real reason. Unless you quickly give your staff facts, they will quickly come up with rumors, anxiety, and fear. If you want to avoid that, you'll have to be honest and clear with everyone about what happened. That's why whenever someone leaves, an immediate goodbye announcement goes out. This announcement is either written by the person leaving or their manager. It's their choice. Either way, someone has to write one. If their message to the company doesn't include exact details on why they are leaving, their manager will post a follow-up message the following week filling in the gaps. It's important that the reasons are clear and no questions linger. (pg. 125)

  • Text threads can be difficult because if you aren't at your phone you can miss the entire conversation. This means that if you want to have your say, you need to be paying attention all day. However, text threads are not bad if you use them sparingly. Chat is great for hashing stuff out quickly when speed truly is important. If there's a crisis or an emergency and you need to get a bunch of people aligned and on the same page quickly, chats a good fit. When it comes to text threads, we have one primary rules of thumb: "If it's important, slow down." Important topics need time, traction, and separation from the rest of the chatter. If it's too important, we ask people to email instead. Give the chat a dedicated, permanent home that won't scroll away in five minutes. (pg. 133)

  • Jeff Bezos sent this is a letter to shareholders: "I disagree and commit all the time." We totally agree. We've been practicing disagree and commit for a long time. We use the exact terms in our discussions. "I disagree, but let's commit" is something you'll hear after heated debates. Companies waste time and energy trying to convince everyone to agree before moving forward on something. Everyone should be invited to pitch their ideas, make their case, and have their say. As long as people are truly heard and it's repeatedly demonstrated that their voice matters, those who share will understand that even if things don't fall their way this time. Finally, it's important that the final decision should be explained clearly to everyone involved. (pg. 153)

  • You can get upset that a competitor copied your product, but what good does it do? Getting angry only hurts you. It zaps energy you could have spent doing better work. Unless you've patented the idea, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. Besides, copying does more harm to the copier than the copied. When someone copies you, they are copying a moment in time. They don't know the thinking that went into getting you to that moment in time, and won't understand your thinking moving forward. They're stuck with what you left behind. (pg. 204)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.