Saturday, March 08, 2008

10 thing from 37signals...

When I wonder what's going on in the world of good online design and usability (where good means form follows function) I ask myself...Hey self, I wonder what the guys at 37signals are up to"...well, they are running a session entitled 'Stuff we've learned at 37signals''s a link to their company blog ( ). 37Signals is a Chicago-based software firm. They're widely regarded for understanding how people use online tools and for identifying the goals that they goes...

Well, that was more about effectively managing a business that involves collaboration, tehcnology and creativity...hmm, certainly lessons applicable to a variety of organizations. Here's the baker's dozen of Ten Things 37 Signals has learned (your mileage may vary):

1. Red Flag Words: Here’s the words that get people upset…red flags
· Need: It’s an absolute, puts barriers up, not negotiable.
· Can’t:
· Easy: Usually used to describe what someone else does
· Only: It never is only one thing
· Fast: it seldom is
· It’s only one more feature, but we really need it. We cant launch without it. It should be easy, cant you just do it real fast.

2. Being successful and make money by helping other people be successful and make money.
Spot the chain reactions…BE the catalyst (sounds like a good tag for a university campaign!!!) for these chain don’t have to worry about charing if you are delivering value

3. Target nonconsumers and nonconsumption
Nonconsumer has a problem but the solutions are too hard, too expensive, or too inaccessible…people who don’t use something who would use something.

4. Question your work regularly
Why are we doing this? Are we adding value? Whats the opportunity cost? Will this change behavior? Be honest with yourself.

5. Read your product
Biggest sin on the web is crappy copy/writing; Too much attention to pixels, not enough to words. Words are easiest and cheapest things to fix. And for all of us, rewrite first, then redesign second.

6. Err on the side of simple.
Start with the easy way. Most mistakes are the result of doing to much.

7. Get three things done in one week instead of one thing done in three weeks.
The longer it takes to develop something the less likely you are to launch it (Cat WL CD anyone??) . Get it out and tweak it later. Momentum and motivation are temporal qualities.

8. Resist the urge to try and do more the next time around. Focus on what you are good at…don’t start to think your prior success is whats going to enable you to do something different

9. Invest in what doesn’t change: Today and ten years from now…people will always want fast, affordable, what works

10. Follow the chefs (BAM!)
These guys share…they are experts and ttey tell you what they know…they build their empires by sharing them. In business, people are afraid competitive will mimic it and beat them. When you give it away, people pay attention.

11. Interruption is the enemy of productivity.
The closer you are, the more likely you are to interrupt colleagues…taps on shoulder, required meetings. A fragmented day is not a productive day. Passive communication reduces interruption…write back and forth…boards, email, etc. Allows the person on the other end to get to it when they are free…not when you think they should get to it. This is certainly different than we work.

12. Roadmaps can send you in the wrong direction. Roadmaps lock you into the past…into decisions you made in the past. Ok to think about the future, just don’t write it down.
Ricardo Sembler has a book about rethinking the organization…"Maverick"

13. Do the right thing at the right time.

14. Be clear in crisis

15. When you make tiny decisions you cant make big mistakes

16. Everything you do should matter.

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