Without a doubt, the best session I attended at SXSW Interactive was, “Stuff We’ve Learned at 37signals.”
It was a talk presented by Jason Fried of 37signals.
I’m a fan of 37signals, as are a lot of web people – Jason’s session was held in the biggest ballroom available at the Austin Convention Center. 37 Signals creates web-based project management tools that are the opposite of Microsoft Project. Simplicity is their mantra. Here’s what 37signals has learned about project management – I think these ideas could be applied to life in general.
1. Don’t worry about unknown. Instead, concentrate your efforts on the most important day – today. Optimize for today…
2. Watch out for red flags words: need, can’t, easy, only, fast. (“Easy” always applies to someone else’s job, never yours.)
3. Make money by helping others make money. Users are happy to pay for Basecamp (their project management tool) because it helps them manage their work and make money.
4. Target nonconsumers. MS Project was too complex and people didn’t use it. Basecamp targets this group.
5. Question your work regularly. Why are we doing this?
6. Read your web site. Bad copy is biggest problem on Internet, read your site and rewrite.
7. Err on the side of simple. Doing the easy things means you get more things done. The longer a project takes, the less likely it will be done
8. Invest in your core strengths – not the latest and greatest. For example, Google invests in search.
9. Build by sharing, give away your cookbook. That’s what top chefs do.
10. Interruption is biggest enemy of productivity. He recommended one afternoon a week where no one could talk to anyone else.
11. Road maps send you in wrong direction, lock you into past decisions.
12. Be clear in crisis, builds goodwill
13. Make tiny decisions, knock little things off and launch/celebrate. Morale feeds off incremental progress; tiny steps means tiny errors
14. Do work that matters.