IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY AT WORK By Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson own a successful software company called Basecamp. They attribute much of their success to some unconventional decisions they made from the start of their company. One of these attributes is calmness. Fried and Hansson decided early on that their company was going to be calm. No crazy deadlines, no 20-hour days, no working on weekends, etc. My favorite chapter in It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work is “Library Rules.” The culture at Basecamp is like a library. Everyone is quiet. Everyone speaks in whispers so as not to disturb other workers.

Fried and Hansson also organize their teams in threes. They found that three people work better than larger groups. Basecamp also isn’t “a family.” It’s a business and everyone has a role to make the business successful. If I was still teaching MANAGEMENT, I’d assign It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work to my classes. There’s a lot of innovative ideas and common sense in this book. GRADE: A
It’s crazy at work 3
A quick bit about us 8
Your company is a product 9
Curb Your Ambition
Bury the hustle 17
Happy pacifists 20
Our goal: No goals 23
Don’t change the world 30
Make it up as you go 32
Comfy’s cool 34
Defend Your Time
8’s enough, 40’s plenty 41
Protectionism 43
The quality of an hour 46
Effective > Productive 50
The outwork myth 52
Work doesn’t happen at work 54
Office hours 56
Calendar Tetris 62
The presence prison 65
I’ll get back to you whenever 67
Fomo? Jomo! 70
Feed Your Culture
We’re not family 77
They’ll do as you do 79
The trust battery 81
Don’t be the last to know 84
The owner’s word weighs a ton 88
Low-hanging fruit can still be out of reach 90
Don’t cheat sleep 93
Out of whack 96
Hire the work, not the résumé 100
Nobody hits the ground running 104
Ignore the talent war 106
Don’t negotiate salaries 108
Benefits who? 116
Library rules 119
No fakecations 122
Calm goodbyes 125
Dissect Your Process
The wrong time for real-time 133
Dreadlines 136
Don’t be a knee-jerk 139
Watch out for 12-day weeks 141
The new normal 146
Bad habits beat good intentions 148
Independencies 150
Commitment, not consensus 152
Compromise on quality 155
Narrow as you go 157
Why not nothing? 159
It’s enough 161
Worst practices 164
Whatever it doesn’t take 170
Have less to do 172
Three’s company 174
Stick with it 176
Know no 178
Mind Your Business
Risk without putting yourself at risk 185
Season’s greetings 187
Calm’s in the black 189
Priced to lose 194
Launch and learn 197
Promise not to promise 200
Copycats 204
Change control 207
Startups are easy, stayups are hard 210
No big deal or the end of the world? 214
The good old days 216
Choose calm 223
Bibliography 228
Resources 231

2 thoughts on “IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY AT WORK By Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

  1. Robert Napier

    The one thing I hated most about work, other than asshole bosses, was the collection plates! Birthdays, babies, retirements, deaths–anything they could think of to shake me down for a couple of bucks! After a couple of my own milestones were ignored I declared I was out of the loop forever. And I was!

    1. george Post author

      Bob, I know what you mean. Some poor sucker each year was chosen to “contact” everyone in the Department and persuade them to give to THE UNITED FUND. There was a competition among the College departments to see which department gave the most money. When I asked where the money went to…there was a great deal of evasion.


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